Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Freddie Gray, Baltimore and the Rebellion Part 1

Yesterday, I attended Freddie Gray's funeral.  It was a powerful and moving experience.  The speakers demanded justice. They made calls for peace. Well, last night, that message of peace did not resonate with the streets of Baltimore. The young rebels did not hear that message. Instead, they took to the streets and expressed their outrage by burning cars and buildings.  They expressed their anger by throwing rocks at police officers.  They expressed their frustration by smashing windows and liberating the property of various businesses.

They are not interested in responsible Negro action.  They do want to hear about praying and being patient. I don't blame them.  I understand their rage.  When I saw Freddie Gray's body laying in that casket, I felt that rage.  At the young age of 25 years old, Freddie's precious life as snuffed out. There is no doubt in my mind. Those Baltimore police officers killed that brother.

We have all seen the video.  The police held Freddie Gray down.  We can see and hear him screaming and yelling out in agony. The brother was unable to walk.  The police had to hold him up and put him into the paddy wagon. According the news reports, the brother repeatedly demanded medical attention. Yet, the police waited and waited and waited. Eventually, the brother received medical attention and later fell into a coma.  A week later, he was dead. His neck was broken and his spine was nearly severed.

You cannot tell me that Freddie Gray broke his own neck.  In essence, the police served as judge, jury and executioner.  As Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant said during his sermon at the funeral, Freddie Gray had the courage to look a white police officer in the eye.  For that offense, Freddie was sentenced to death. The police killed that brother and they can't even tell us why they arrested him.

As attorney Billy Murphy said during the funeral, most of the attendees did not know Freddie Gray personally.  However, they know many Freddie Grays. We know Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo and countless other unarmed black people killed by the police. So yes, I understand the rage of the rebels.

For their actions, they have been demonized. They have been called thugs and criminals. Instead of attacking the so-called thugs, we need to attack the conditions that created this problem.  We need to finally address the problem of police brutality. Too often, the police are the real thugs and gangsters. Too often, the police harass, abuse, maim and kill unarmed black people with impunity. Too often, the police are not indicted. In the rare cases when they are indicted, they are frequently found not guilty.  The people have no reason to believe in such a system. When one does not believe in the system, one has no reason to respect the laws and property of such a system.  One will destroy the system.

Poor inner city communities have been neglected and ignored. Now, Baltimore cannot and will not be ignored.  Instead of attacking the thugs, we need to attack the problems of high unemployment, poverty and failing schools.

Unfortunately, the politicians have failed the black community.  We have the illusion of progress, not actual progress. We have an African American mayor, an African American police commissioner, an African American prosecutor, an African American Attorney General and even an African American President. Yet, the systemic problems of police brutality, unemployment, poverty and failing schools persist. Last night, black dreams deferred exploded. Sadly, this is only the beginning.

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