Monday, April 27, 2015

The reasons why

Why did young people in Baltimore lose their shit? Here's something our media won't tell you...
Police used tear gas on a group of high schoolers outside my building today. Unarmed high schoolers. Carrying textbooks & wearing backpacks.
But if you want the deeper reasons why, check out what Orioles COO John Angelos had to say...
Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.
I hope that people are still quoting this message decades from now.

Let me add this. I watched the action on teevee in a fast food restaurant in a working class neighborhood. The audience in that place was evenly split between black and white. I spent a lot of time listening carefully to what they had to say.

Nobody discussed these events in racial terms. That fact separates this event from the Rodney King riots.

Nobody took the side of the cops. A lot of people thought that the rioters were acting stupidly, but nobody defended the cops.

Nobody in this city places much trust in the cops. The general opinion -- of white people and black people -- is that the Baltimore police are assholes. Most Los Angelenos did not have similar feelings about the LAPD, even at the height of the Ramparts scandal.

This is about class, not race. And everyone here knows it, although they may not use that terminology.

(Thanks to Corrente.)
(I hope you'll post this version of my comments instead. Last one had some bad typos.)

Thank you for posting this. I hadn't been paying attention to the Freddie Gray case, or should I say murder, until tonight. Now I know. And I'm reading about the terrible abuses by Baltimore cops - just a laundry list of them! I'm white, so I've been insulated from it, obviously - "it" being the police state that runs the ghettos. The stadium lights have been turned on and now I see the reality of that police state.

You mention the LAPD. I've been reading City of Quartz and I'm struck by how bad the LAPD violence was in the 1980s and how similar to today - chokehold deaths figure prominently - but also a little more blatant and systematic, with a police chief who talked of blacks having different physiologies that make them more vulnerable to injuries during restraint. I think there was a case where LAPD cops stormed an apartment block and ransacked it while screaming racial epithets. That were a dozen or so cops. I suggest picking up City of Quartz and zeroing in on the chapter about LAPD violence for a mind-blower.

Zooming out from the events in Baltimore, I'm worried that the United States is coming apart, slowly, surely. I fear that these riots are a symptom of a kind of decay that, as you said, goes beyond race, and is irreversible - doesn't parallel the national emergencies and massive riots of the '60s or early '90s because we live in a uniquely nihilistic age. In the '60s, there was hope and a counter-culture. There was the Great Society and there were ideologies. The LA riots were terrifying, but the '90s overall were peaceful. There was also hope.

Now our political system is bankrupt, our economy is stagnant, and nothing seems to be fixed anymore. The American identity is over. There's an overwhelming sense of a slow-moving apocalypse and catastrophe. And it's not just the rioters who want to burn it all down. Secretly, most Americans are yearning for a disastrous rupture, anything to force us off course.
Those were amazingly perspicacious remarks by John Angelos! Why can't someone like him be our President? He gets it. Can't imagine he would be pushing through that Pan Asian trade treaty. Watching the riots at the gym my thought was, "good, burn Baltimore, burn. Show the Man kids, this Police State will not stand." When they killed Bobby Kennedy & Dr. MLK, Jr., the ideologies were buried with them. We didn't get to finish it in the '60's. I hope we didn't lose our chance, because I fear martial law is on the horizon.
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