I got crappy questions so I figured I wouldn’t bother answering them. Especially since apparently there’s been protests in my city, Baltimore, all this week and Saturday was a big mess where the protests started out peaceful for hours and then ended up raucous.
I was downtown on Saturday because I’m helping out at a store in Federal Hill but got dismissed early because of the protests since I knew they would attempt to disrupt traffic. They did succeed in that but I was already home watching stuff from a live stream on a local news site. I did notice the 3 helicopters, two police, one news, hovering over my area (I live relatively close to downtown, mainly a 20-30 minute walk) and at least two police jeeps driving towards downtown all at the exact same time as I was getting to my home. That and I saw an unhitched storage trailer with Montgomery County Police’s logo and signage on it while passing through the Inner Harbor by Circulator bus, that’s a pretty far away county.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and whinge the usual “Reminder: Please don’t kill Black people” or say “Oh, look [random Black person] has died! How many more will happen?!” because I’m not Tumblr and I’m not a White activist – two groups who have a reaaaaaally strong tendency to be very vocal about dead Black people to the point of passing around ToD (Time of Death) pictures like they’re trading cards. Emphasis on the dead because they certainly don’t do much about living ones besides thieve and pillage their cultures for fun and try to eject them out of their neighborhoods via aggressive and passive gentrification.
For example, LED Baltimore and I tend to bump heads because they like to portray Whiteness as baseline of art on their massive, electric billboard but Baltimore is a 64% Black city (with a 12% White population) and a creative one as well. This person would reason that somehow, despite the 64% Black population, they have the ever hardest time finding a Black photographer or visual artist that makes art. And an even harder time finding people who would paint or picture Black subjects because apparently Black people are hard to find in a 64% Black city. Like, apparently we don’t exist. Except when we litter the streets to be chalk-out lines.
This especially because it seemed LED Baltimore had no problem whatsoever broadcasting the ToD picture of Freddie Gray on this super big jumbotron of a billboard. Or crying Black people – preferably light skinned ones because when White folks say “Black Lives Matter”, they mainly mean “Ones who are light enough to not visually perturb us. Black lives might matter but Whiteness has diamond value. However, Black suffering definitely matters, though. Great cash cow.” This really annoyed me. Can’t put up a picture of a Black kid enjoying a frozen cup but a dead Black kid? Let’s slap that up there, certainly it’s dramatic photography because it’s what everyone, including the 64% Black population, wants to see.
Yeaaaaah, this is why White folks in activist circles (and outside of them) are constantly the poster kid of “What not to do.” That White Saviorism complex eventually comes popping out and ruining things. Great at causing problems for minorities but never really been that stellar in fixing said problems.
This is why I was not too happy seeing any White anyone in the protest crowd because that’s basically a glowing sign problems are about to occur. Baltimoreans just want the officers in the case, at the very least, indicted for some kind of wrong doing that most definitely did occur. White folks just want to live out what they saw on V for Vendetta last night and because they listened to too much Green Day and Rage Against the Machine (the one they’re pretty happy to be a part of). To feel like rebels because there’s nothing better else to do than sit on Facebook and pretend to be armchair political philosophers and strategists. Didn’t help that you had the Orioles game going so there’s more yuppies flowing into the mix, especially since they like yelling out, “Gun! He’s got a gun! Shoot! Officer, he’s got a gun!” because they think SNL-level humor is cute. Funny, these people weren’t saying the same during Sandy Hook. For the lolz, right? I mean, I could honestly create an endless barrage of jokes off of Sandy Hook alone, talk about an easy target, it would be such child’s play, almost as simple as picking on kids. I wonder why no one took that incident so light heartedly.
Are there really great White anti-racist activists who genuinely do care that the looooooooooong, long history of police brutality and harm to Black individuals (not Black bodies, Black individuals. A body is what you get after murder happens, not before. That would be an individual, a person) is atrocious and needs to stop? Sure but those 3-5 people need to do some actual work reigning in and policing the other White folks around them. Selflessly. Not to be the next Tim Wise, to be selfless out of genuine concern. I didn’t really see many White activists saying to the O’s fans, “Dude, that’s not cool.” Nah, they were fairly stuck on silent. Or busy posting to Tumblr or Twitter about how they’re “good” White folks on “the right side of history”, probably to use later so when they get older and called out for being racist, they can say “Hey! I marched in the Black Lives Matter protests!” or when their kids get called out for being racist because, hey, blatantly unchecked bigotry is the gift that keeps on giving, they can say “Hey! My parent walked in the Black Lives Matter protests!” because history likes to repeat itself. Regularly.
Also, usually when Black Lives Matter stuff start hitting the news, here comes the Blue Lives Matter/All Lives Matter folks. I’d include the fact they’re usually White but I figured I was saying “White” twice. Look, I have friends who are cops, both White and Black, (I even have a friend who joined the FBI!) and two uncles who are retired State Troopers but even they know there’s no point to saying Blue Lives Matter because officers aren’t getting picked off like NPCs in a First Person Shooter. More of the opposite. They’re know they’re safe. It actually alarms them how safe they are, that they can basically murder people, even on camera, and they’re most likely getting nothing but a paid vacation from it because of the usual chicanery of how police are, especially Baltimore police.
I remember when I had to help a battered neighbor and I took her straight to my officer friends (which goes up to Lieutenant) because I knew the cops in general were probably not going to do anything, which is precisely what happened (one cop of the duo, both Black, even said, “I don’t see injuries” despite swollen eye and busted nose. Even asked for a “before” selfie) until one of my friends, who is a Sargent started to pull rank and fast. Only then did things get moving and a dude threatening to kill everybody, including the kids, managed to get locked away until we’re on our 46th president and they’re up for (most likely denied) AARP since this isn’t the only thing on his rap sheet, just the newest addition. If I didn’t use my network, this neighbor and her kids would have still been under the same dude or become homeless because they wanted to get away really badly since the cops called didn’t want to locking up someone who actually committed a crime but rather wanted to irk and harangue the victim because laziness. Even my Sgt. friend, who is White and was very on the mark, remarked “This is why we have the reputation that we do! That was shoddy police work.” He continued that of all the times in history to pull this, now would definitely not be it because he knew people didn’t trust police and giving them just cause for their distrust is not helping. Only thing Blue Lives need protecting from is their own reputation and that’s not going to happen until they do something to change it. That’s strictly on them. Officers aren’t dying at unprecedented rates, even despite having a dangerous job. That’s what they’re doing to others. And aren’t the only ones, at that.
As for the All Lives Matter people…we already know that it’s code for “White Lives Matter” because we’re already implying that all lives matter by saying “Black Lives Matter” because Black lives are part of the All but are really being cut short at comparatively drastic rates, unlike the rest of the All. Seriously, does the very idea of mentioning that Black people should be safe like everyone else that freakin bothersome that you have to mentally and verbally distance yourself from it by saying “All Lives Matter”? It’s really rude. And disrespectful.
Miles Jai explains this all perfectly:
Seriously, just say “Black Lives Matter” instead of “All Lives Matter”, you’ll look way less racist than you actually are.
As for the low to mid level destruction in my city – and I call it “low to mid” because while some cop cars got trashed and a few trashcans were lit, it wasn’t the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. Nor the MLK Riots of 1964 – I’m not surprised. Seriously. I lived in this city my whole entire life. I was raised in the hood, I’m not at all surprised that this turned out the way it did. As MLK* says, “Riots are the language of unheard” and talk about unheard people.
The news and the Mayor says the destruction was from out-of-towners. I don’t believe that for one second. Granted, the yuppies and White activists were definitely someone to beware given their track record** but a lot of the kids who were also being a problem came from my old neighborhood, Sandtown. I remember the Western Police District HQ, people would sell drugs on the steps (which, in turn, aided drastically to my PTSD because yeah, cops are pretty bad but drug dealers are practically evil the same way corporations are, they harm/kill anyone and everyone for business, they only “play” nice when convenient. Cops don’t haunt my nightmares, these folks do), the area is indeed a jacked up area. I think I have personally said the only way to fix that area was with a nuke and start again, it’s that bad. I lived there, I’m not crafting my ideas from watching The Wire and The Corner and youtube videos.
I’m not surprised they wanted to attack Orioles’ fans/Camden Yards. Those guys symbolize drastically the racial and class divide in Baltimore because mainly White folks, middle class and higher, go to O’s games. These O’s fans, they’re yuppies that are gentrifiers, they take up parts of the city without concern to others and treated like they’re royalty nearly. The folks who were trying to scream “Gun! Gun!” to the cops were O’s fans, they really don’t care about anyone and are really bigoted. The only time they like being around Black folks is if someone is there to clean out their trashcans and look after their kids. Then they go back to their pristine houses and pristine neighborhoods, wash, rinse, repeat. Baltimore has a long and extensive history of institutionalize racism and classism, we’re basically running on 1950’s era Jim Crow-lite. Even the Mayor and police head admitted to this recently. Because of all that, I’m not worried in the slightest about the safety of the O’s fans because why? They don’t care about us and actively show it, they shouldn’t expect an iota of concern back. The anger towards them is perfectly justified to me. Plus, it didn’t help that the police strongly defended the O’s fans and Camden Yards like it was a fort because basically it shows cops will protect White people with intense value but Black people? Not so much. And in a city that is 64% Black but 12% White, that’s going to piss off people more than just a little.
Not to mention, and O’s fans have a tendency to be destructive as well but none of them wind up dead at the end of it all despite being belligerent and drunkenly obnoxious.
Also, the news were talking to a lot of political leaders, NAACP folks and basically older heads who young people frankly do not care about. And when they’re not, when they say, “Look at peaceful protesters”, they pan to a White protester. When they refer to “violent protesters”, they pan to a Black protester, even if they’re trying to stop the mayhem. Which adds to the problem because uhhhh, upholding Whiteness is not a bright idea in trying to eradicate racism, because it’s the crux of racism.
Look, these kids know good and well that absolutely nothing is going to change. Even I know that. It’s just all political caterwauling to look in charge and/or to draft votes, preferably from White folks. These kids don’t see change, and I know from personal experience, these kids really don’t like being used as political chess pieces. They’re not that dumb. Police brutality has been a thing for decades, it’s cheap and insulting to pretend it’s just started.
The brutality component is kind of already woven into the concept of “what is an officer” when you’re young. Where I’m from, calling the police usually made a situation worse, not better. It’s simply part of How Things Are. If a cop gave you grief, it was like discovering a downpour on a day that was supposed to be sunny. Cops can be nice but you go out of your way to stay out of their way. Don’t like it? No one cares. Growing up, you know for fact that there’s no such thing as “unalienable rights” and “constitutional rights” are kind of super optional. Actually, I think there’s a running joke that if you told the cop you had rights and started to recite them, the likelihood of a cop beating would go from “probably” to “very certain” and it was just going to happen faster. I gleaned from growing up, you never tell a cop you have rights unless you’re either White or you want to find out how much they don’t apply if you’re not.
So, of course these kids are not going to care about destroying their own city. As far as they see, it’s just older people who don’t understand them or folks who look as if they’re pandering to White people, so it’s all just words. Simply hollow words. They know the Mayor doesn’t care. They know that nothing will change. It’s just a big political, media circus, a ruse. They know the cops are probably going to get off. They know that this isn’t going to stop future killings. They know that their area won’t get better until developers start pushing them out to move White people in. They know that this is the result so there’s no point but to take advantage of a situation where they can go wild and be destructive. They’re not concerned with the overall well-being of Baltimore residents, they just want to act out because that’s all they can do. Of the businesses and areas they attacked, some were obvious targets, such as the One Main Financial, Frank & Nics (the sports bar where O’s fans were taunting protesters), and Michael Kors store and knocked over a Smart Car, the mini electric car. They’re all signs of the “we don’t want you here” gentrification the kids used to getting. Even when I saw them pass the One Main Financial building, I knew that place was going to get some shattered glass, it’s too prime a target to pass up. You knew cop cars were going to get totaled, none of this had a low probability of happening.
Granted, when I saw the slew of people sitting in the bed of the dark pickup truck before the live feed cut out, I did say, “Man, please don’t start goonin’. This has been going good since 12 and it’s now 6, don’t start goonin.” Annnnnnnd what happened? Goonin’ occurred. Folks throwing grates and rocks at the police, attacking cop cars, etc. I shouldn’t be too surprised, I saw a couple Bloods gang members in the crowd, they’re not big on being peaceful, ever. Plus, a truck – a different dark truck – drove through a crowd of protesters and thankfully got chased down the street and hopefully got caught because that’s not cool. You don’t try to mow over protesters.
So, what is going to happen now? Not much, really. People are going to get their glass replaced, there are going to be more marches probably and nothing significant is going to happen. I’ve got nothing to be hopeful for, there’s no reason for me to believe that anything different is going to happen. Cops usually get off, people quiet down, White folks continue to pretend this is a brand new trend they have absolutely nothing to do with and is not rooted in racism, etc etc. Nothing really new.
* Nyuck nyuck, since White folks like to reference MLK like he was the only person in the Civil Rights Movement – but only in a hyper selective manner. And conveniently forgot that for someone so peaceful, he got shot by White folks as well. Through the throat. With a sniper bullet. As an enemy of the state.
** They only dislike police because cops are the higher level version of rebelling against their parents and don’t like getting busted for actually committing crimes such as using drugs or destroying property