Ramona's picture

    No Excuses: Angry Thugs and Looters are Still Thugs and Looters


    I know you might hate this, but I'm going to do it anyway.  I'm going to write this as a mother, as a grandmother, as a card-carrying citizen of the United States, as a goddamned human being.

    I'm white, but if you dare hold that against me you're no better than those who hold color against anyone.  We're going to talk about those stupid vandals who rampaged through their own Baltimore neighborhood the night before last, looting, burning, destroying nearly everything in sight.  They were black kids and they used the funeral of a young black man as an excuse to raise so much hell we'll be adding Baltimore once again to the list of the worst riots in the U.S.

    So far, as of this writing, there have been no reported deaths--thank the light above for small favors.  But vicious, creepy thugs willfully savaged an entire neighborhood, and I submit the only thing poor Freddie Gray's funeral had to do with it was opportunity.  It was their big chance to blaze their way in, using righteous protest as a flimsy excuse to riot.

    Rumor has it that they were mainly teenagers, that they used social media to get the word out, that a movie fueled their fervor for vengeance.  There are reports that the police themselves showed up at the school campus in riot gear and wouldn't let the kids get to their buses to go home.  They went to the neighborhood instead.

    Some of the people who have lived through the cop-on-black violence in West Baltimore abhorred the rioting but tried to find ways to explain it beyond simple vandalism.  TaNehisi Coates knows the area and the police activities well.  He writes:

    When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.

     But it wasn't just the police and the politicians pleading for nonviolence.  Freddie Gray's family begged for it.  The preachers in the community prayed for it.  Neighborhood families hoped against hope for it.

    If the thugs had stuck with setting police cars afire, with throwing bricks at police officers, I might have understood, but still not condoned, that kind of disrespect.  They see the police as the enemy. But they didn't stop there.  They didn't even start there.  Their intent was to riot.  To disrespect the community.

     For 48 hours, since the riot began, we've heard non-stop talk about the reasons why.  I won't go into all of them, except to say that the Baltimore police are known pigs who seem to thrive on punishing black people, and Freddie Gray, the young man who didn't deserve to die at their hands, did die at their hands.  Horribly.  They broke his spine, curled him up into a ball and stuffed him into their paddy wagon.  They ignored his need for immediate medical care. He died in their care and nobody but him has so far paid the price.

    If I lived in that neighborhood and knew what I knew about the police and about this case and about the hundreds of other cases where justice was as cruelly denied, I would want someone's hide.  Not literally, of course, but I would want retribution.  I would want somebody to pay.  I would protest.  Loudly.  I would not shut up.  I would be just like the thousands of people in that neighborhood who finally have had enough and want something done now. But I, along with those thousands of others, would have respected Freddie Gray's grieving family enough to grant their wish for peaceful protest.

    Freddie Gray's funeral sparked the riots, even though his parents and his twin sister begged for peace.  Begged for it.  Said it out loud many times:  "Please.  No violence.  Please."

    But within hours of Freddie's funeral the mourners' remembrances of the slain young man took a back seat to the nightmarish witnessing of a full-blown incendiary riot.

    The rioters (do not call them protesters) busted out windows and doors of small businesses, made off with the goods inside, and looted and vandalized a CVS drug store.  They commandeered a police car, severely injured the occupants, and set the car on fire. They rampaged through a liquor store and a check-cashing store. The CVS went up in flames. More cars burned. Then more buildings. Through the night, fires roared.

    And--get this--when the fire truck arrived to put out the fires in this neighborhood where families live, one of the punks pulled out a knife and spiked the hose. Twice. The water meant to put out the fire spewed like a swell fountain into the air, far from its directed target.  I'm guessing the punks around him thought it was pretty cool, too.  Nobody--I mean nobody--said, "Uh, not the fire hoses, idiot."

    Yesterday the community came together to clean up their streets.  Mothers, fathers, small children.  The elders.  They're trying to put their lives back together again. They're heartbroken.  They're ashamed.  They're angry.  They know how this will look.  NBC news correspondent Rehema Elllis reported that she saw women standing in front of the burned-out CVS store weeping--weeping--because they spent years trying to get a pharmacy to put down roots in their neighborhood. What are the odds that CVS--or any pharmacy--will build there again?

    This is the harm that riots do.  Riots aren't protests. There is no good outcome from riots.  They're remembered into eternity as the crazed response to a bad situation, and when it happens in a black community it's the black community that has to answer for it.  The thugs, the vandals, the looters need to get that message.  Making excuses for their criminal behavior doesn't just let them off the hook, it gives them license to keep their destructive anger alive.

    Toya Graham, the mother who whupped her son in front of the cameras yesterday to keep him from joining the looters showed us the way well-placed anger wins the day. Her raw desperation, hard as it is to watch, is about as heroic as it gets.

    "'That's my only son and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray'. . .
     'Graham says after she got her son home they both watched news coverage of the demonstrations and riots on television. As images of her reaction started to go viral, Graham says comments started appearing on her son's Facebook page, many in support of her.
    'Friends and everybody making comments and saying you know, you shouldn't be mad at your mother, you should give her a hug,' said Graham.  [She] hopes the incident will serve as a teachable moment for her son."

    Thugs will be thugs and to hell with them.  They almost destroyed this community.  Almost.  But the beauty of it, if there is such a thing, is that the people who live there aren't about to let them.  If something positive finally gets done in the community of West Baltimore, don't thank the rioters, thank the people in the neighborhoods who, in spite of the destruction, choose to rise from the ashes and work to build anew.


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)



    Undue Force, Baltimore Sun, 2014 report on scores of cases where the city of Baltimore has paid millions to settle, and silence publicity, surrounding abuse by the cops in Baltimore.

    NYT: Proof can be found in a meticulously reported investigation by The Baltimore Sun of lawsuits and settlements that had been generated by police-brutality claims. “Over the past four years,” the investigation noted, “more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations.” The victims included a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant woman who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.

    The report, published last fall, detailed what it called “a frightful human toll” inflicted by the police: broken bones, head trauma, organ failure, and even death, occurring during questionable arrests. It found that judges and prosecutors routinely dismissed charges against the victims and that city policies helped to hide the extent of the human damage. Settlements prohibited the victims from making public statements. The Sun estimated that the cash-strapped city had spent $5.7 million on settlements

    Baltimore Sun, same 2014 article:

    ....Baltimore’s Police Department, the nation’s eighth-largest, didn’t track or monitor the number of lawsuits filed against each officer. As a result, city officials were unaware that some officers were the target of as many as five lawsuits.

    The 87 year old Grandma who raised foster children and was a former teacher, and who tried to help a boy in the street by her home, from the Baltimore Sun, 2014:

    “Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up,” Green recalled the officer saying as he stood over her. “He pulled me up, pushed me in the dining room over the couch, put his knees in my back, twisted my arms and wrist and put handcuffs on my hands and threw me face down on the couch.”

    After pulling Green to her feet, the officer told her she was under arrest. Green complained of pain...

    “I am here because of injuries received to my body by a police officer,” Green wrote on stationery stamped with “wish on a star” at the bottom of each page. “I am suffering with pain and at night I can hardly sleep since this incident occurred.”

    In June 2010, she sued the officers; an April 2012 settlement required the city to pay her $95,000.

    Green died six weeks later of natural causes

    Some of the victims of the Baltimore PD who won settlements.

    All terrible.  I agree.  But what does any of that have to do with looting and burning an entire neighborhood mostly made up of the very people who have already been victimized?

    Are the excuses uniformed members of the police force make for the continual and ongoing abuse of people in that neighborhood acceptable or more worthwhile? No? Apparently those excuses work for the justice system because no cop was indicted.

    And they keep making them and getting by with it.

    In a better nation there would be no need, and no acceptable excuses for law breaking, even by cops.

    If it was possible or made sense, which it doesn't, I would sacrifice more than one CVS outlet than see another grandmother crippled and abused by sociopathic cops on the public payroll.

    If it was possible or made sense, which it doesn't, I would sacrifice more than one CVS outlet than see another grandmother crippled and abused by sociopathic cops on the public payroll.

    Sorry, I don't make the connection.  Are you saying nothing but looting and burning will stop sociopathic cops?  Is this the only way to bring attention to a rotten situation?  That's pretty scary.  And downright disheartening.

    The Baltimore Sun published the article noting over 100 cases of police abuse with $5.7M paid out. Where was the outrage? Crickets.

    Trayvon Martin was killed by a sociopath. No conviction. Eric Garner's homicide was caught on video. No conviction. A wealthy Tulsa pretend cop pleads not guilty to manslaughter and is allowed to take a vacation in the Bahamas. The Tulsa police chief stands by the wealthy pretend cop. A Chicago cop kills an innocent black woman. The city pays out millions because of the homicide. A judge rules that the cop who shot her is not guilty of any crime. We are 2.5 weeks out from the death of a man in Baltimore and still have no official report. Police unions stand by the men and women in uniform.

    Sadly, at the end of the day, you cannot tell people that the system works. The majority of the protesters in Baltimore held the hoodlums in check with the hope that the system might work this time. What do you have to offer given the disheartening truth that police get away with maiming and murder in the black community. I think it is a miracle that it has only been Ferguson and Baltimore.

    For those of who who spend your time ridiculing people of faith. Imagine where Baltimore would have ended up without the spiritual uplift provided by clergy including the Nation of Islam.

    You expect criminals to act like criminals. People were protesting against police abuse, lack of jobs and poor schools were also in the mix. Criminals took advantage of the crowd. Look at the events of yesterday. People cleaned up damaged stores. Local groups provided entertainment via street performances for children home from school. John's Hopkins University and Morgan State University students aided in the cleanup. At night, local clergy, political leaders and parents keep things under control. Ray Lewis and Elijah Cummings were out encouraging people to leave when the curfew came into effect. Some wanted confrontation with police. Ten got arrested.

    This began because the Baltimore a City Police Department feels free to maim people. We still have no official reason for why Gray was arrested. We await the official autopsy report. The involved officers have a Bill of Rights that allows them to avoid questioning for ten days after an incident. The union will back each officer no matter the evidence or charge. The union will want these officers back on the street if, as is the norm, they are not charged in this homicide.

    Suspects do not have the bill of rights that police have. The zoo live have maim church deacons and 87-year old grandmothers. The justice system ignores most of the police abuse. Gray might have run away from police out of fear. As a black man, let me say, I have no reason to trust any random police officer I encounter. Fortunately, I rarely have contact. If I lived in a highly patrolled, high crime area, I would just be another piece of meat to be picked on by the police. That realization angers me.

    When criminals do criminal crap, I am not surprised. There are cameras at the corner where the CVS was set on fire. There are cameras in the stores surrounding the looted stores. Criminals have been caught on film and will go to jail. History suggests that thee is a possibility that the police will get away with homicide. That also angers me.

    The Baltimore police department's conduct for too many years is deplorable.  So is the constant cover-up.  But I contend that there was enough attention brought to the front because of the horrible way Freddie Gray had to die, because of the protests, the presence of the press--there was no need for riots.  It only made it worse, and I can't stop thinking about Freddie's family.  This is not how they wanted their son's name remembered on the day of his funeral.

    His death should be the catalyst for change, for reform.  His life should be honored in that way.  Instead, the riots cement the impression that black communities in Baltimore are out of control, that there is a need for heavy-handed police work..  We all know better, but everyone from the rioters to the police will think they're justified in their actions.  It makes it just that much harder for the peacemakers.


    To be brutally honest, the reactions in Ferguson and Baltimore are going to put more pressure on police union to stop the practice of putting bad cops back on the force than anything in recent memory.

    The GOP will still try to kill any funds directed at improving education or creating jobs in the black community. Nothing will change until Republicans are no longer in charge in Congress. The GOP would be any obstacle with or without riots.

    If we ever get the results of the investigation, the police will again be the focus.

    You're right, and it's high time, but "reactions" don't have to mean wholesale neighborhood rioting.  Busting up stores, stealing their goods, burning them down.. . . Who benefits from that?  Who is hurt the most by it?

    Change has to come, and the mayor, the council, the police chief, and anyone else who allowed this to happen--they have to answer for their abuse and their neglect.  Make it happen the right way.  There are better ways of bringing attention to these things than to give a mob free rein to loot and destroy.

    The thugs will go to jail


    Every police force should be integrated..to roughly the same proportion black as  the community except no less than 10% or more than 50%.


    It is a culture not just race. There was a black female NYPD Sergeant in the background as Eric Garner was dying. A black officer made no comment after a South Carolina cop shot a man in the back and then dropped a Taser near the man's body, planting evidence.

    It will be better. That;s a start..



    And many municipalities understand this FACT OF LIFE.

    If a city wishes to police its Asian neighborhoods, there better be Asians on that patrol.

    If a city wishes to police its Hispanic neighborhoods, there better be Hispanics on that patrol.

    The same rule should apply to Muslim, Black and other ethnic neighborhoods.

    If the neighborhood does not trust the police force it sees every day, the police force becomes the enemy.

    This truth will not solve all problems related to ethnicity, but this truth will alleviate a lot of tension.

    Hell, in the olden days, municipalities actually hired the Irish gangs as their police force! 

    If I recall, Mayor Daily of Chicago fame was once a member of an Irish gang.


    The mayor, the police chief, and the council president are all black in Baltimore.  What didn't they get?  How could they have let this go on?  How many more lawsuits would they have to settle before they finally figured out there might be a problem with their police force?

    The local official's appeals to the state level to change some of the abuses of 10 day Union rule has been ignored. Now that Baltimore has the attention of country maybe the State of Maryland will take some steps to correct this.  Maybe the Federal Justice Dept will also get in there and force changes. 

    Rep. Cummings came here to my small over policed town last fall to help campaign for local Democratic Party Candidates. He has been on the forefront of this issue. No one outside of these communities have been listening to what is going on.  But it seems to always take a series of riots to get the country's attention to address issues like this. Right or Wrong. The genie is not going back into the bottle.

    Sorry daggers but black cops or black prison guards (Mayors and Police chiefs) can be as bad or worse than whites in the same job. There is no skin color test for morality.

    The white cop arrested for murder in SC had his false report signed by a black officer who saw him drop the taser next to the black guy the white cop had just shot 8 times in the back.

    Changing the ethnicity of the guys in uniform will not help without color blind standards of integrity and conduct.

    Rikers Island prison in NYC is staffed with a majority of black officers and has astounding levels of violence against inmates. It's union the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association is run by a Norman Seabrook, below, who got a specially appointed investigator of abuse fired and replaced by a friend.

    Norman Seabrook, NYC Mayors come and go, Norman....stays, and rules at Rikers

    Thx for the information. 

    So far the record of non-violent protest just hasn't been persuasive on this issue.  In the Times today, D Watkins writes about fights starting when peaceful protesters marched past a bunch of sports bars towards the baseball stadium and white revelers yelled "We don't care!" and worse at them.  This recalls a similar response by brunch patrons in NYC earlier this year.

    I guess I find it understandable, even if not justifiable, that violence would be the result when people have spent years as victims of violence and have not even peaceably been able to assemble an audience, much less to obtain change.

    Yes. But.

    It's easy to blame the rioters. No one is for rioting. And the people rioting are the ones who are already most disengaged and powerless.

    My question is why haven't more peaceful avenues worked? Why haven't the responsible people, inside the system and outside, gotten it done?

    People complained about the rioting in Ferguson. And eventually those stopped. How many unarmed people have the police killed since then?

    I don't excuse rioting. But if you don't provide people any option BETTER than a riot, there is no excuse for that, either.

    MLK Jr

    "Riots are the language of the unheard"

    Rather than creating a white backlash, king argued that the pre-existing white backlash created the riots.


    Hard to talk to people about peace and order when the people charged with maintaining peace and order are breaking people's spines.

    Since it's your area, DC, how was civil disobedience practiced during the Renaissance, when forces with power were far less accountable.  Any parallels between what happened then and what's happened with the Baltimore police now?

    In the era I study? People rioted. It happened all the time.

    I can't think of any cases of civil disobedience in 16th or 17th century London. I can think of numerous riots by apprentices (I.e. Young working men who were poor and were indentured to masters for years). 

    And of course, there were also no civil rights, or even the idea of human rights. And no check on power except pushback.

    The idea of human rights only emerges through a series of armed conflicts with authority. England has a protracted civil war and beheads the King. Forty years after the beheading, they have another, less bloody revolution and drive King James II out of the country.

    Non-violent resistance is a new idea, pioneered by Gandhi and MLK. But remember, the way MLK did it was often to *provoke* violence by the authorities.

    And the numerous castles throughout the realm were where the 1% stored their booty, quartered their knights and retired to for safety when the peasants, led by an aspiring 1% usurper, revolted and laid siege to the fortress of the local oppressor.

    Thanks, Doc.  Kind of what I'm getting at -- we have human rights concepts now but if those ideas are not enforced by the government, we're back in pre-modern conditions.  When we look back we say, "Sure the people kicked the Duke off the land, what other choice did they have?" When other systems are functioning, when the judiciary is fair and impartial and the police have demonstrated the best intentions under the best regulations, then violence can never be justified or even understood.  But when authorities act unaccountably, like hereditary nobles, people have fewer choices.  The Baltimore PD was already under Federal supervision.  The administrative and regulatory options had been exhausted over decades. We have major cities in America operating with a pre-modern mentality.

    There's an interesting book, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Buhner. I have it to learn about beers that use other herbs instead of hops. Hops is a sedative and an anaphrodisiac, but there are many herbs that have other effects and they were quite popular. You can get drunk and be energized or stimulated.

    The book has a long section that details the history of the laws concerning hops in beer. He claims the laws were designed to affect people's behavior. Too often people were hanging out drinking beer with stimulating herbs and going off to riot or burn down the land owners mansion instead of getting drunk and falling asleep. Laws were instituted to ban beer without hops. I'm not a historian so I don't know how true this theory is but it appears to be well researched and at least the herbal information is extensive.

    That is interesting.  Beer and Ale was important because of all the contaminated water.  The fermentation was how they purified their water for drinking. The first round of fermentation was the strongest and the next rounds was for general drinking.  The weakest round was fed to kids. I know barley was common and used. I didn't know about herbs usage in beer during medieval period.  

    My question is why haven't more peaceful avenues worked? Why haven't the responsible people, inside the system and outside, gotten it done?

    That's the much larger question that can't be answered in Baltimore alone. Or in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, Chicago, Cleveland ...

    Aren't we the ones who decry war, protest for peace and urge diplomatic resolution to global conflicts? War grabs the headlines. Wars are waged in the name of noble causes and those who kill and die are called heroes. Yet we hate it - we make no excuses for it. Is it excusable for some to wage war against their own neighborhood if they claim just cause?

    You have to understand that violence committed by blacks is treated differently than violence committed by whites. The first thing media does is blame the victim for causing his own death. Riots by white are sanitized while riots in black neighborhoods is a moral aberrancy.


    Imagine the black Cliven Bundy family... Police would have called int air support.





    That is the God's Honest Truth!

    My question is always this:  Why, when they riot, do they attack and destroy elements--in this case, buildings--that have nothing to do with their anger and frustration?  It's heartbreaking to know that that burned-out CVS had been a point of pride in that neighborhood,  The weeping women said they had worked for years to finally convince a pharmacy to come to their area.  That was a huge deal.  I remember the celebrating a few years ago when a poor neighborhood in Detroit finally got a new supermarket.  Poor people don't have cars.  Transportation is iffy.  A neighborhood store is a godsend.  Why on earth was the CVS store targeted?  Liquor?  Toilet paper?  What?  And why burn it to the ground?  Why slit the firehose to keep the fire from being put out?

    Burning police cars--understood.  The rest, no.  I'll just never understand the destruction of buildings essential to a neighborhood.  (I might make an exception for the check-cashing business.  They have no place in a civilized society.)

    Targets are picked more or less at random among those that are easy and unprotected. It's just a way to make a statement by people who feel there is no other way to get heard. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

    Why do uniformed Baltimore police on duty illegally and with no cause beat up and arrest grandmothers and pregnant women?

    Why are those same police allowed to stay on the job to do it over again to others, costing the city over $10 million in judgments and lawyers fees over 3 years?

    Why does the city of Baltimore not even keep track of rogue officers with multiple judgments against them in court?

    Why even after newspapers have revealed serious problems in the Baltimore police force does the behavior continue with the killing by blunt force neural decapitation of Mr.Gray?

    Why under LEOBR does Maryland forbid any questioning of police involved in incidents by their superiors, for 10 days following incidents of death or suspected abuse of suspects?

    Answer these questions, and then we can discuss the far less troubling decisions by some youths in this community that led to some destruction of property.


    Thanks for the link to the LEOBR.  The article does shine a light as to what the community is up against.  

    A protester asks an MSNBC reporter why there were no cameras when there were peaceful protests that began the day before Gray died and continue peacefully until the evening of Gray's funeral. Cameras came when violence came



    In August 1965 violence broke out in Watts, the black ghetto in Los Angeles. Beating, looting, burning, sniping, bombing, went on for six days, leaving 34 people dead, more than 1,000 injured. The Watts riot, said Dwight D. Eisenhower sternly, “did not occur in a vacuum. I believe the U.S. as a whole has been becoming atmosphered, you might say, in a policy of lawlessness.” The former President’s solution was “greater respect for the law.” Kennedy lashed back. “There is no point in telling Negroes to obey the law,” he said. “To many Negroes the law is the enemy. In Harlem, In Bedford-Stuyvesant it has almost always been used against them.”

    The display of rage by some White Liberals, and others, plus their tendency to mount their High Horse to brand  the young untermensch as thugs and looters just shows how easily the Good Amerikans revert to reactionary rhetoric when the underclass shows any signs of revolt.

    It's telling that their first priority and the highest value is placed on property and not even their own property, something that can be easily replaced unlike human life or health which are constantly under threat in these occupied cities. Most of the properties initially attacked were symbols of White supremacy in their neighborhood, Payday Loans and  chain drug stores extract profits from their people to feed wealth to outsiders.

    The White reaction and elevation of Toya Graham to hero status who "whupped" her son not to stop him from rioting but to protect him from police violence is even more telling. If this incident had happened outside the frame of this revolt the same people who idealize her actions would probably be calling them thuggish and calling for her prosecution for child abuse.

    This may be the beginning of another Long Hot Summer and the coming insurrections may be more organized and directed not spontaneous and random which will mean authority and suppression will be directly confronted.

    The anger I feel for what the rioters and looters did has more to do with the community than the buildings.  This is a community already struggling under unfair, heartbreaking conditions and now they're dealing with having to find the resources to rebuild, not because of some act of God or enemy attack, but because a mob of young people, most of them living in that same area, decided to vent their anger against their own.  That's just stupid, and I'm tired of everybody hauling out every excuse under the sun to justify it.  There is no justification for what they did to their own community.  None.

    I made it clear that I understand their anger, that the police there are pigs, that they have every right to protest, to riot if that's what it takes to get their message out.  Looting and burning is not a byproduct, it's a deliberate, opportunistic, terrible act, and it's shocking to me that we'll just pooh-pooh it because, well, here's what the police have done to them.  

    Where is the connection?  Did it hurt the police because they tore up their own neighborhood?  Of course not.  It hurt real people already struggling to make it through their days.  Where were the looters when the neighborhood was out there the next day using brooms and shovels and pails to try and clean up after them?

    And what message do you send when you condone looters and burners, giving them tacit permission to go out and do it again?

    About Toya Graham:  I'm a mother and I've written more than once about spanking as a kind of abuse, but we've all been in situations where we've lost it when our kids are about to do something that will harm them.  I understand how fear brought her to that point.  It really doesn't matter to me that you don't.

    Toya Graham was attempting to save her child's life. The fact that the events were in response to a homicide committed while a man was in police custody should not be lost. Obviously, the teens actions were not the message being sent from home. Teens take actions that they later cannot explain. Fortunately most teens do not face death as a result of a spontaneous action. In  Ms. Graham's neighborhood, death could be the penalty for a teen indiscretion.

    We still do not have an official report on why a man died in police custody. We do not have a preliminary autopsy report. We are told that these reports will go to the prosecutor, not the public. The prosecutor works with police. The police abuse citizens. Should we trust the result of this system. If the officers are taken to trial and there are no convictions, the conclusion will be that the prosecutor through the case. A special prosecutor is needed because there is no reason to trust the system in place.

    The fact that the teen getting beaten had very rational reasons to believe that he could act outside the law because the "law" was crap at the local law enforcement level and at the level that judges bad police, should anger us all. The teen has a rational reason to believe that the legal system with the aid of the police union will place all 6 police officers, who are getting a paid vacation, back on the Baltimore City police force. No wonder the mother, realizing that the police, could justify killing her unarmed son, resorted to physical violence.


    [Comment moderated - mw]

    Payday Loans and  chain drug stores extract profits from their people to feed wealth to outsiders.

    I'll agree with you about the Check Cashing/Payday Loan stores but the CVS store was a lifeline for that neighborhood.  They fought to get it in there because for the first time they could have access to the things they need at lower prices.  Someone interviewed a woman who was frantically looking  for a place to buy diapers because the CVS was in flames and there was nowhere else to buy them.  They can buy milk and bread at normal prices without being gouged.  They can make it one-stop shopping if they need to.  That's what made the burning of that particular store so outrageous.  That's why the women outside of it were weeping.

    Ramona, the cops patrolling the streets of Baltimore are often, as the Sun reported, thugs who make criminal decisions to abuse the innocent, the State of Maryland is so dumb it doesn't allow cop supervisors to question cops for 10 days after they kill somebody due to LEOBR,  the justice system and the courts don't lock a proven bad cop up, and the city is so dumb not to fire them, even after 5 of more incidents of abuse of citizens costing the city millions .......so why, why in heavens name are you so surprised at the lack of common sense or sensitivity to others on the part of a crowd of students and juvenile delinquents?

    You expect them to be better people and smarter than the civic leadership?

    No, NCD, I expect them to respect their own neighborhoods and the people who live there

    Like everyone in that community and city should, including Grandma beating cops and a city administration and justice system that lets them get by with it.

    Well, of course.  But that doesn't let the looters and burners off the hook.

    Peter's comment got deleted.

    One thing he pointed out death with the label thugs. In some quarters, it is considered the acceptable way of saying N-word. This flared when Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman, a Stanford graduate was labeled a thing for post game comments


    ​Several days ago an interview on Cnn went south when Erin Burnett labeled black youth thugs 

    I have used the term, President Obama has used the term, and Mayor Rawlings-Blake have used the term. It has to be pointed out that it is a charged term.


    I confess I missed all of that.  I've been dealing with personal issues for a couple of months and have been out of the loop, only slightly paying attention.  If I had been aware of it, I wouldn't have used the term, either in my title or in my text.  To me a thug is a troublemaker, but I've been getting major flak over it and it takes away from what I consider the more important issues in my piece.

    I realize that language is fluid so I'll put away the word "thug", reluctantly.  What if I used "hoodlums"?  Is that a racially charged word, too?  It has the word "hood" in it.  Do we have to run every word by a committee before we use it now?  Who decides that a word is a code word?  The ones who first started using it?  The ones who take offense?  Where does it ever end?

    President Obama, the Mayor of Baltimore, and I have all used the term. I provide the new context so that you don't run into misunderstanding outside of dagblog.

    Unfortunately as long as racism exists it never ends. There's definition and connotation and sometimes the connotation replaces the definition. No doubt many used thug quite innocently.  Then the racists who no longer could say n***r began to use thug in it's place until it became a commonly used code word. The republicans know the game, they use it all the time. Occasionally someone will admit it. Atwater said, " You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can't say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff."

    A couple of decades ago we had a national conversation about the word "retarded" and it's use as a term of disparagement. So now we tend to avoid using retarded and use disabled or challenged. But retarded came out of a similar debate a hundred years ago. Moron was considered insulting so doctors substituted retarded, which simply means slow. Moron was technical medical terminology used by science at one point. It actually denotes a person with mild intellectual impairment, an adult with intellectual development around 10 years. The least severe manifestation of mental retardation. It migrated to popular culture and became an insult.

    It wouldn't surprise me at all if in 100 years "challenged" became such an insult that we decided to change it again. Sure you can use hoodlum. But if people acknowledge that thug has become code word for nigger and became unusable it wouldn't surprise me to see "hoodlum" , or gangster etc. become the new code word used by racists so that in 100 years we can argue about that word. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.


    The faux controversies over a word and a kid's mom (heroism or assault?) are sensationalized nonsense. Noise trending on social media isn't necessarily worth perpetuating.

    This is almost certainly apocryphal, but it's still a good story:

    An Irish family with the good old Irish name of Hooligan was infamous for the many drunken brawlers among its sons.  It reached the point that the family name became synonymous with wild men who ran amok.

    When the family emigrated to the United States, the elders hoped to turn over a new leaf and leave their notoriety behind.  So they Americanized their name... to Hoodlum.

    I think this is an important point that needs to be brought up. 

    This riot didn't start the way you might think. They thought the kids were planning something at 3 PM. to do harm. Many of the parents got to the schools that day and pulled their kids out.  The kids ride the public transit to get back and forth to school.  Baltimore don't have school busses. The high school kids that were left in school all day found themselves in the middle. 

    When school let out that afternoon, police were in the area equipped with full riot gear. According to eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, the police were stopping busses and forcing riders, including many students who were trying to get home, to disembark. Cops shut down the local subway stop. They also blockaded roads near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from the mall, and essentially corralled young people in the area. That is, they did not allow the after-school crowd to disperse.

    Meghann Harris, a teacher at a nearby school, described on Facebook what happened:

    Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn't catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.

    The kids were "standing around in groups of 3-4," Harris said in a Facebook message to Mother Jones. "They weren't doing anything. No rock throwing, nothing…The cops started marching toward groups of kids who were just milling about."


    The mom that found her son there was trying to find out if they let the kids get on the bus to go home. She had a doctor's appointment and rushed there afterwards to check.  She was stopped short of explaining how the kids ended up in this situation when she was interviewed. When she saw him with the rock in his hand, she lost her composure. Had she gotten out of the doctor's office earlier she would have picked him up from school before the school day was out. 

    You can find more about how the kids were herded in this area from TPM article. 


    ​You can see Toya Grahram interview here.  Also Joan Walsh has a good take on this.


    I remember seeing a picture last night on one of news feeds where a high school student on crutches in a bus stop standing there with riot police line forming behind him. I thought about him a lot and wonder if he was able to get out of the way. Many of these kids got caught up in this that never planned to be part of it. 


    Thanks for the links. The response did create the situation.

    Very good points, and important to remember when looking at the circumstances that led to Monday's events.

    The large majority of the 200+ people arrested were adults. Of the approx. 35-40 juveniles, 21 were found to have no criminal record or prior arrests.

    Thanks, Momoe.  I thought I had that MJ link up there but I used a different MJ link, instead.  Fixed now.  But, yes, the police need to answer for that heavy-handed reaction as those kids got out of school.  What was the point of keeping them off of their buses? 

    Just to note, Joan Walsh backtracked on her piece, saying she wished she had had an editor look at it before she published it.   But much of what she said was true, it was the way she said it that got her in trouble.

    I liked her piece because it showed how conflicted we were about this problem. I felt all those things she said as I dug through the facts. In fact I was even worse at sorting this out because I live in an over policed town.  

    I have had the pleasure of being stopped after grocery shopping with 2 small children in the car at 8 pm at night where the dogs was run through my car terrorizing the kids that are strapped in car seats and a trunk full of groceries.  I know I get tagged a few times a year.  That is were they follow you and then run your tag to see if you have an arrest warrant outstanding. It is a really creepy feeling to have them up your tail pipe like that. You even have brief moments of panic because it has been a week since you checked to make sure your tail lights are working.  I have an old car.  

    In this state as soon as you let your car insurance expires your insurance company has to notify the state.  Your driver license is then suspended and sometimes they make mistakes.  They go fishing for that because that is a real cash cow in a poor neighborhood.  Insurance isn't cheap.

    I think I commented about all the cameras hanging on stop lights and corners.  Well they had to turn them off.  2nd circuit said it was against state constitutions because 3rd parties are not allowed to write tickets and warrants. These cameras were run by a for profit company that shared a portion of the revenue to the county.  Now I can make right hand turns on red without fear of tripping the camera and getting a $125 ticket mailed to me to pay. Most of the time I would just sit and wait for the green light and who cares if the guy behind me is going nuts honking. He is not going to pay my ticket. The state is trying to pass new laws to have the cameras back, I am sure. 

    We are worried about a neighbor that was tazed at the entrance of the park and strapped to a stretcher by 5 cops.  He hears voices but is a nice guy.  We had the humane society come and rescue his birds locked in the trailer. The sheriff came out and let them in.  Now his birds are lost to him.  He has no family, just his birds. They won't release any info on him and that happened a month ago. He is still not home. My grandson was in the car with me as we saw him being strapped to the stretcher. He is 23 years old and it brought tears to his eyes to see this happen to that old guy. He will never the rest of his life vote for a Republican.  The GOP is toast because 51% of our children are growing up in this. They can reform themselves but they will remain a minor party for a generation because these kids will be adults and will never trust them. 

    I could go on for hours about this giving personal examples.  It is becoming a normal in towns of mixed racial and poverty areas.  The abuses are just stunning. I see these people in communities like Ferguson and Baltimore courageous to take this on because we are all cowards around here. We will never burn down our local CVS to force the media and government to turn some attention to this. You can try to change the system through proper action but you end up with voting rights blocked. Which is what has happened here.  

    So this is what it looks like from eyes like mine because I have to live with a version of this abuse. 

    I was going to post this to In The News but honestly it fits better here. It is from an economics/finance blog I follow. The blogger is a vrey smart guy and as you will read, his hometown is Baltimore

    There is a name for this 

    I’m reading a lot of crap about riots in my hometown. Fuck you all and your firehose of useless, self-serving, careerist punditry, your giant spotlight that cares not a whit about all the things it pretends to illuminate but will blather with equal earnestness and concern about the next thing tomorrow just like it did about the last thing yesterday and hope to get paid or praised for it all. Fuck me for adding to the noise, I barely have the stomach for it anymore.

    I don’t live in Baltimore now. I’m writing this from Silicon Valley. Does that even count as being alive? I feel like I’ve been uploaded into the singularity already. I never felt that way in Baltimore. Baltimore is inevitably described by lazy writers as “gritty”. Something like that.

    Anyway, I interrupt your punditry to tell you that all your commentary about riots is bullshit and confused and tendentious and fuck off. And that economists, God bless ‘em (no, not really), have a name for this.

    Politically motivated riots are a form of altruistic punishment. Look it up. Altruistic punishment is a “puzzle” to the sort of economist who thinks of homo economicus maximizing her utility, and a no-brainer to the game theorist who understands humans could never have survived if we actually were the kind of creature who succumbed to every prisoners’ dilemma. Altruistic punishment is behavior that imposes costs on third parties with no benefit to the punisher, often even at great cost to the punisher. To the idiot economist, it is a lose/lose situation, such a puzzle. For the record, I’m a fan of the phenomenon.


    For the record I have no idea what that means.

    The NYT has an article on the 'killer cops bill of rights act' which is a law in Maryland and a dozen other states:

    ... a state law that gives special legal protections to police officers suspected of abusing their power.....Maryland’s, enacted in the early 1970s, was the first and goes the furthest in offering layers of legal protection to police officers (who have killed or injured a suspect). Among its provisions is one that gives officers 10 days before they have to talk to investigators.“There should be no reason why they should have 10 days to get their story together,” said Tré Murphy, coordinator for the Baltimore United for Change Coalition....

    The van made a stop that was not included in official police reports.


    In addition Jayne Miller of Baltimore's WBAL-TV found the man who was transported in the man. His story varies somewhat from what the Washington Post reported.


    Freddie a Gray had not pulse when he arrived at the police station. There was a delay before paramedics arrived. They were able to get a pulse and transport Gray to the Shock Trauma Unit.

    Once again, police feel free to lie on a police report and back up the story told by other officers.

    NYT article today, front page for a while, 'Rough Ride', you throw the guy handcuffed into the back of a police van, don't buckle him in which violates Baltimore cop policy, make sudden stops and fast turns and he gets banged up without you hitting him. A technique for psycho cops.

    The suspect can also get a broken neck as happened in Chicago according to the piece, and after paying out $900K Chicago banned police vans and made cops bring suspects in  in squad cars.

    Check out the map given at the NYT link, they picked Gray up 6 blocks from the station, and drove in a big circle for 4-5 times that distance, with the 4 or more stops.

    Thanks for bringing this up.  Yes, I have heard of "rough riding."  So that is what they did to him. 

    CNN now says 6 cops have been charged with charges from 2nd degree homicide for the driver to manslaughter.
     You are more informed than the NYPD police deputy commissioner John MIller, if you heard of rough rides. He says he never did.

    That comes from being informed white trash in a southern town. They can't lynch anymore so they throw them around in the paddy wagon to hurt them. 

    I'm sure that's what he said. No doubt he then said he's never heard of excessive use of force, abuse of power, or corruption by any police officer. He then walked away wondering why no Irish Catholic cop has been elevated to sainthood when they all should have been.

    I would like to know what word of phrase in my comment offended MW enough to censor my whole comment?

    My point was that when people use this type of rhetoric it is dehumanizing, these are  'people' even if their actions in the heat of the moment are illegal and wrong headed. I also wrote that i don't condone their actions because i don't place myself above them to judge them.

    What we are discussing are reactions to symptoms of a corrupt and authoritarian system with both the cops and the demonstrators playing their roles in this tragedy.


    I moderated the comment because of the insulting remarks directed at the blogger. Your restatement of the main point is fine.

    I just wish to cut in on this for a minute.

    You are so kind to me.

    You will take my unedited stuff and just make it palatable.

    I do not have an editor.

    Except for Mable of course. hahahah

    And you might take a word or a frank and change it.

    Speaking loosely for you and your staff of course.

    I do not have any idea where your money comes from.

    We need a moderator.

    But damn, I have suggested before that you sell some time on the right.

    Just a couple ads that are Green Friendly or Organic (even though I do not believe in this crap) or just a....a....freeing the seas from plastic.

    Anyway, keep on keepin on.

    Without you and Mike M and Ramona and Doc.

    we got nothin.

    the end.



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