Photo Credit: AP/Alex Brandon
With scenes of the Michael Brown protests in Ferguson, MO still ripe in the minds of many, the clips that have been circulating of what took place in the Freddie Gray protests yesterday should not come as a surprise. In fact, they should be expected. Because when such displays of extreme disregard for human life are the catalyst for these actions, in communities where many of its downtrodden occupants already feel like they and others who look like them are walking targets, it is inevitable. Then, those whose duty it is to hold criminals accountable have the audacity to put the perpetrators of these contemptible acts on administrative leave with pay, while imposing mandatory curfews on those demanding justice and telling them how and where to protest. No, that’s not how it works. You do not get to dictate how the People choose to express themselves when your actions and/or failure to take necessary action is/are the reason(s) the People are protesting in the first place.
If we allow those whom we are protesting against to determine what is acceptable and what is not without applying any type of pressure, what is stopping these things from happening again if they feel they can contain the level of response? And if they know the People will ultimately acquiesce to their requests? Could this be a reason why we are seeing no change in the excessive use of police force across the country?
Besides police, I have heard quite a few people pass judgment on how protesters choose to express themselves. If you aren’t living in the same conditions as many of them or are so far removed from the urban community and the experiences of those living there that you can’t empathize with their struggle, then what right do you have to tell them how they should conduct their protests? How can one remain peaceful when your People have been getting harassed, assaulted, and killed by those whose job it is to protect and serve you and getting away with it for generations? How can you keep faith in the idea that justice will be served when time after time, it isn’t?
Do I condone one form of protest over another? No. I just am not naïve enough to believe that simply protesting peacefully is the only answer. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was as peaceful as they come, and he was still shot down in cold blood. Not everyone who uses aggressive action as a form of protest is a thug, hoodlum, animal, or opportunist; many of them are just tired of not being heard. If they were to take their aggression out on the police rather than their surroundings, then what would you say?
When things like social unrest start moving into areas like Downtown Baltimore, as shown in the video below, where the people of higher classes are known to frequent, clearly there is a communication barrier that exists that we all need to address, because the death of Freddie Gray is not just a Black issue, it is a human issue. To some, the Orioles game or the White House Correspondents Dinner held more value than showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters (Black, Brown, White, whatever) in demanding justice for this man’s life. And let’s be realistic, telling people to make sure they vote in the next ballot or election does absolutely nothing to help them right now. You can’t expect those being affected to just sit on their hands and remain passive until the polls open while injustice continues to plague their communities. Enough is enough. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the protests in Baltimore, check this extensive article written by WBALTV. What are your thoughts on the protests and the current state of society in the U.S.?