Baltimore Riots Continue
by Eshani Chakrabarti on Friday, May 22nd, 2015
On April 12th, 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man living in Baltimore, Maryland, was injured while in police custody. Gray fell into a coma as a result of severe spinal and neck injuries and died seven days later on April 19th. The officers involved were charged with homicide by State Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
After Gray’s death was announced, various protests were organized in Maryland. Though initially peaceful, some protests turned violent with continuing civil unrest. As of May 1st, at least 250 people had been arrested, with at least 20 officers injured. Baltimore’s mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called a state of emergency on April 27th, though the curfew was lifted on May 3rd.
Damage from the rioting in Baltimore is estimated at $9 million, according to The Baltimore Sun and The Huffington Post. Even during the curfew, protesters stood defiantly against the police. Cars and buildings were burned. Police were hospitalized, businesses looted, and hundreds arrested.
President Barack Obama strongly condemned the violence during a White House press conference, saying, “there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive…When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing.” The President also commended those who protested peacefully, though he added that their efforts were undermined by the violence.
According to the Washington Post, some demonstrators expressed outrage over the treatment of protesters as opposed to that of the officers involved. 18-year-old protester Allen Bullock, who turned himself in to the police, posted bail at $500,000. In contrast, the bails set for the six officers charged with second degree murder for Freddie Gray’s
death were set at $350,000.
Residents in the city of Baltimore have initiated some restoration efforts since the riots began. Many of them have called attention to the widespread issue of police brutality in the United States, which, with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, has gained traction in the media.
Milton Academy, like Baltimore, is filled with opinionated and passionate students who care about these issues, some of whom have used social media to express their frustrations and opinions on the matter of police brutality.
When asked if the riots supported the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, a movement created in response to the “virulent anti-Black racism” according to its website, Mariah Redfern (I) stated, “I think rioting during a movement can fall under the ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ rule for a few reasons. There are some people that heard about rioting in Baltimore, and then were forced to acknowledge that they don’t condone police brutality in a way that they didn’t have to when they were ignoring all the events down there. Other people saw the riots as a demand for change. I do think that the riots furthered the movement, in that they got attention that was not being given when black people were peacefully waiting for the government to actually take this seriously.”
On the other hand, Kingdell Valdez (I) stated, “I feel as though the riots have ultimately detracted from the main issues of police brutality and the systemic issues of racism that invades our lives. It is often true that controversy brings the most attention in the media, so, by nature, riots bring more attention than activism and peaceful protests do. Most news outlets desire to bring negative attention to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Overall, we should stop talking about the riots and lootings and focus on the root causes of those problems like poverty, racial discrimination, police brutality, and mass incarceration.”
Kingdell advises the community to “continue the conversation, because police brutality and racism do not stop just because media stops reporting them.”
As of May 21, the six officers involved have been indicted.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7048