Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sad days in the city

I was around in 1968 when, as all the journalists said, Baltimore "exploded" in rioting following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.   It took years and years to rebuild the city - most of it, that is.  There are entire blighted blocks down there that have never been fixed up.

Notice I say, "down there."  People across the nation don't always understand that Baltimore City, where the rioting has been taking place, is a totally separate jurisdiction from Baltimore County, where I live.  It's a whole 'nother world down there, as we say.

Once again, rioting is taking place in the city.  It started last Saturday night, when a peaceful protest march attended by thousands mourning the death in police custody of a young man named Freddie Gray turned to violence and destruction when a small segment of those thousands saw the chance to rob, pillage and set fires down by the Orioles ballpark.

Then on Monday, following Mr Gray's funeral, high school students went to a city mall/transportation hub for a "purge," apparently inspired by a movie called "The Purge" which I am glad to know nothing of.  Lots of people see movies like this and come out of the experience ready to confuse them with real life.  Leaders of this after-school special told the news that the plan was to have a peaceful march in protest of Mr Gray's death, but within minutes of school letting out, they were throwing rocks and bricks at the police who had assembled in response to their plans.

And then all hell broke loose, and there was looting all over town, and fires, and arrests, and injured police, several of them seriously hurt.

I see on my newsfeed a lot of articles detailing allegations of abuse by the city police over the years.

I see on my newsfeed a lot of posts by police and their supporters detailing allegations of shootings, mayhem, and crime committed by city residents over the years.

I see on my newsfeed a lot of dithering over fine points, such as whether it's proper to call people throwing burning trash cans at police officers "thugs", or whether an overreaction to an overreaction is an overreaction.

I see on the horizon a need for everyone to behave.  Is that asking too much?

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