The Baltimore Protests Are About Freddie Gray and So Much More

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I won’t condone violence against police or peaceful protesters. I can’t.

I won’t condone looting. I can’t.

I won’t condone police violence against peaceful protesters. I can’t.

I won’t condone a man being stopped, then arrested because he seemed suspicious.

I won’t condone a man’s spine being severed while in police custody, with no logical explanation given. I won’t condone the seeming lack of the police department’s willingness to provide a timely answer of how. I won’t condone ANOTHER Black person’s senseless death.

There is a pervasive level of tired in the Black community. The response to each situation gets markedly worse. Why do you think that is? It’s because of the tired. It’s because of the fedupness, the decades of frustration, of lies, corruption, poverty, dismissal, brutality. It’s because we are shown repeatedly that we do not matter. We are expendable. We are wrongdoers. We are deserving of jail and death.

It’s ok to kill us and let us lie for hours in the street. It’s ok to arrest us and not get us medical attention immediately. It’s ok to shoot us in the back and let us lie face down in the mud with no attempt to keep us alive. It’s ok to submit false reports; it’s not like we didn’t deserve to be shot. It’s ok to forcibly prevent us from protesting peacefully since of course every peaceful protest turns violent, because we are animals.

It’s ok to close the mass transit system just as school lets out so that our children can’t get home and we can’t get to them. It’s ok to suggest that the city is overrun by gangs, then show the now idle children falling victim to mob mentality, eerily like gangs.

What’s happening in Baltimore is not just about Freddie Gray. It’s about years of hatred and pain. It’s about pretending things have changed, wanting things to change, and knowing they haven’t. It’s about anguish at wrongful (and mass) incarceration. It’s about being unable to exist without fearing for our lives and the lives of every Black and brown person we know.

Why do you call Black rage reactions to the taking of a person’s life thug behavior, but consider destruction of property by white people when their sports team loses, unrest?

I don’t condone evading arrest. I don’t condone resisting arrest. I don’t condone selling loose cigarettes or playing with toy guns or standing in a crowd or being in a dark stairwell at night.

I don’t condone violence or looting.

But if you want me to pretend like I don’t understand these things? I won’t.

I can’t.

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