If you’ve been follwing the news in Baltimore recently, a lot of it may seem vaguely similar. It was only last year that saw Ferguson, Missouri erupt in social unrest after racial strife. If that wasn’t a sharp slap in the face reminding us that racism, or at least racial tension, is still alive and well in America, then the recent turn of events certainly should be. Because as much as the topic is debated, it really seems like the problem is here to stay.
I’d like to comment on the events in Baltimore, and give my take on the situation. Right now, however, I think it is simply too early to do so. At this point, more questions remain than answers. It’s easy to get caught up in speculation amidst the torrents of accusation, but the fact remains that right now, we just don’t know the whole story. Why was Freddie Gray arrested, and why was he killed? Was it indeed murder, or an accident? Why have the police not commented on the issue? Is there no footage of the event that would shed light on these concerns? These are critical questions, and I can’t form or share a complete opinion until we have the answers.
Key word “complete.” I can still give my opinion based on what we’ve seen so far.
To begin, I think we can all safely assume what happened. These kinds of events in America follow a dark pattern, and if you’re hoping that the same won’t hold true for this case, you’re being rather naiive. Cynical as though it may be, I don’t think there’s much doubt that Gray was indeed murdered. Whether or not he was arrested on valid grounds remains to be seen, and I think that issue is a coin toss. But was he treated excessively harshly while in police custody, so much so that he was killed? It’s America. Of course he was.
Again, that’s all speculation, but when it’s confirmed, I’ll give a more complete opinion. I’ll only make two other brief comments. Firstly, whether or not it was done for the right reasons, charging the officers in question was the right action. Rare is the occurence when something goes right for the African American population in conflicts like this, but this was a big step. It showed that the legal system did indeed care about the rights of black people, and that this time, maybe we won’t see the same sad story of white supremacy in America play out again. Then again, a charge is not a conviction, so we may be yet proved wrong – but still, it was an important step in the right direction, for not only making a statement on the battle that will soon ensue, but for helping quell the anger of the city for the time being.
And that’s the topic of my second comment. Of course blacks are angry right now – they have every right to be. However, they must refrain from the violent protests in which they are engaging in right now. Yes, they were greatly wronged, but looting and trashing the city in response will in no way help them. I can understand the rage, and the temptation – but they have to behave in a way to prevent this from happening again, instead of in a fashion that will ultimately bring them no closure. Difficult as though it may be to be the bigger man, Baltimore must unite and come together to fight for the larger cause – and take on racism and injustice head on. Martin Luther King Jr showed us that the way to do that is through diplomacy, not through violence. Maybe if Baltimore can adopt his practices and adhere to his lessons, they may be able to start the wheels of motion that see his dream to fruition.
It’s ridiculous that events like continue to happen in America. It’s tragic, appalling and disheartening, and needs to be dealt with immediately. This isn’t something we haven’t seen before – it’s been the same story for centuries. Yes, America has come a long way in it’s fight against racial injustice, but there is still a long way to go. And if the stories of Ferguson and Baltimore are any indication, this story won’t end anytime soon.