Danny Cardwell's picture

    What Do We Do After Baltimore?

    We can also make reference to all of the illustrious Black kings, queens and warriors of the past, and cite everything that Black people have accomplished throughout history. But what's the purpose of having all that knowledge if we don't use it to move ourselves forward?

    -- Eric L. Wattree

    When I read this it reminded me of Frantz Fanon. Six weeks after the riots in Baltimore what's changed? Modern day attempts at social movements end up being the equivalent of someone yelling in a quiet theater, sure the yelling snaps us to attention and forces us to focus on the disruption, but as soon as calm is restored we find ourselves fully immersed in the distraction on the screen. Likewise, as soon as the camera crews leave the epicenter of the hostilities we, as a nation,  refocus on our individual distractions.

    I've noticed a formula for quelling social unrest. First, conduct an investigation into the events that led up to the riots. Second, conduct an investigation into the policing habits of the municipality where said riot happened. Third, restructure the police department and/or local government through special appointments to appease the community. Lastly, take as many photos as possible with civic leaders and wait for the status quo to resume itself.

    One cruel irony of our generation's push for social change is our inability to sustain momentum after the national media leaves. We have the benefit of technology, but it seems like we're wasting it posting twerk videos. Yes, We use Twitter and Facebook to organize events and circumvent the media's ability to dominate the narrative, but what do we do once people are on the ground? Our lack of central planning has resulted in a bag full of mixed demands. What's our modern program to capitalize on the nations attention once we have it? After the national media moves on who holds the politicians feet to the fire? There's a plethora of people willing to participate in televised interviews, debates, and forums, but how many of those same people are willing to do the hard work of developing a cogent set of demands?

    I'm glad more public intellectuals are focusing on these issues, but their ability to affect change seems diminished when compared to the past; likewise, the black church has seen membership shrink to the point that many pastors are literally preaching to (just) the choir. Academic journals and fiery sermons are important, but if their message doesn't reach beyond their walls it's like they didn't happen. This limitation is one area where the university and church have a lot in common, No matter how much you lecture, how many sermons you deliver, or how much work you publish, It's in vain if it doesn't improve the quality of a child's life.

    We have to avoid the trap of focusing too much on our past. We have to use the lessons learned from the past to help shape our future, but we can't be so focused on the accomplishments of yesterday that we neglect to do today's work. The reality we face is different than our parents and grandparents. Fifty years ago you could feed a family with one blue collar income, not so much these days. Many of the advances our predecessors made socially and politically have been negated by the harsh economic realities of our time. More Black men and women hold higher degrees now than fifty years ago, but too many of them are looking for work, if that's the reality of our talented tenth, what can the average brother or sister with a high school education look forward to? As long as the real economy doesn't work for minorities the underground economy will remain a vibrant, yet dangerous choice.


    I do not know what to do and neither do other people who are 'in charge'.

    That is a fact.

    Ask Eric, my friend.

    We shall set up a panel?

    We shall set up an investigatory commission?

    I dunno.

    Oh, he has maryjane on his person?

    Oh, he is lurking with intent to loiter?

    Curly Rand of all folks tells us that we must release non violent criminals from prison and give them the vote and give them jobs?

    I do not trust Rand but damn; we have to do something.

    I just read this blog where one half of all prisoners were caught being in violation of strange parole/probation infractions. These folks had not even been charged with new crimes!!!

    I assume that there is no one over 30 years of age who is and has not been guilty of some legal infraction.

    I understand where some Tea Partiers are where they are.

    Too many laws and not enough lawyers for the poor.

    We are all going to hell



    We are all going to hell, one way or another.

    What if the President just commissioned fifty different panels in 50 different states and began commuting half of all prisoners' sentences?

    The Feds are only one tenth of the problem of course.

    Remember when the Illinois Governor just commuted all death sentences just before he ended his term? And he was a repub for chrissakes.


    Good post!

    The recurrent images of police overreaction to situations captured on video is start. A South Carolina man is shot in the back and killed. A man carrying a toy gun in Walmart is gunned down within minutes of the arrival of the police.  A child in Cleveland is gunned down within seconds of arrival of the police. A spine is severed by Baltimore police. A cop does a body roll and pulls a gun on unarmed teens in bathing suits in Texas. The other officers it the scene get him to re-holster his weapon. The out of control officer then goes on to smash a young girls face into the ground. The police are slowly creating the same visual image as Bull Connor's German Shepherds and firehouses did in Birmingham. A majority of the population is appalled.

    The officer who pulled Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates off his own porch was a training officer. The Texas officer who did the body roll, gun threat, and face smashing was a training officer was a training officer. Both know that their union will back them. The only fear they will have is if they are terminated with no benefits.

    In order for termination without benefits to occur, we need politicians with backbone. It is obvious the Democratic Mayors of Cleveland and Baltimore are not up to the task and need to be replaced. Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore prosecutor stands out because she had no problems charged the six officers involved in the Freddie Gray homicide. The Mayor of Baltimore and the police chief were worthless. Mosby was not the choice of the Democratic machine in Baltimore. She was chosen in a grassroots selection by the citizens, Baltimoreans need to oust the Mayor in the next election. The Cleveland Mayor needs to go.

    By electing Marilyn Mosby against the wishes of the Democratic machine means there is a movement that can be used to get rid of an ineffective Mayor. Jamal Bryant was one of the names in the faith community who came to the forefront. There are likely a host of secular activists already at work.Baltimore needs new leadership and the building blocks for getting them elected are in place.

    On the national level, Donna Edwards, a Progressive is running for Senate in Maryland. If other Progressives get elected, change in police training and regulation may come from Congress and the DOJ.

    There is no "after" for the residents of Baltimore, there is just more of the bad. Business owners also can't reopen as few loans for repairing their businesses have come through.

    Residents are suffering the onslaught of criminal activity.

    May murders in Baltimore (43) rise to levels not seen in over 40 years, and if kept up at that level for even 10 months would put Baltimore on a par with some cities in Brazil. Time:

    The number of murders (in Baltimore) has doubled while shootings are up more than 80%, and most experts say that it’s at least partly linked to a reluctance by police to actively do their jobs.

    The Baltimore police object to citizens recording law enforcement officers doing their jobs. The citizens view the death of Freddie Gray, the video of. SC officer shooting a man in the back, and the out of control activity of a police officer at a pool party in Texas and see no reason to trust police. 

    Agree 100%, but cops didn't kill any of the 43 dead in May It's a Sao Paulo like level of homicide.

    How do you attract and keep good cops in a city like this? Would a highly qualified candidate with multiple employment options want to work in Baltimore? Would a good cop who could get a job elsewhere want to stay?

    That is a a very big problem for the Baltimore PD. The cop in Cleveland who shot the 12 year old was fired in a town outside of Cleveland, and then hired in Cleveland. Same story of filling positions with low quality 'bad' cops.

    A progressive Senator or a black Mayor, or even black cops (as in the other one who signed off on the incident report in SC), doesn't solve that very tough problem of the candidate pool. A very tough PD Chief is a starter, but they are, apparently, hard to find, and in limited supply.

    The homicide levels were at a 40 year low in Baltimore. Crime levels was deceased in multiple urban areas. The line in the sand is that the Baltimore police cannot be given a free hand to abuse citizens. 

    The crime rate has decreased. The teen pregnancy rate decreased. The abortion rate decreased. At what level do socials ills have to decrease for spinal cord trauma to be untenable? Do all blacks have to allow themselves, their children, and their relatives to be abused before Baltimore City police do their job? Criminals will be criminals. Criminals will shoot each other. What rights do law abiding citizens have to give up to make police do their job?

    You're saying the Baltimore PD was doing well, until the recent incident?

    No, I'm saying that black homicides have decreased dramatically a fact that goes unnoticed 


    Edit to add:

    The decrease was nation wide

    If you watch the TV news here, the unstated but fairly clear subtext is that increased violence was because the police were holding back, implying that we should let them protect us even if a few (black) perps get roughed up. But from what I've heard, the increased violence in May was fallout from turf wars over who gets to sell all the oxycodone and adderall that was stolen from pharmacies during the Monday evening Freddie Gray riot. I have yet to see the drug angle mentioned on TV broadcasts. 

    Two Baltimore police officers told CNN that they could not do their jobs because they can't be proactive. They can't be proactive because officers were charged after Freddie Gray died in police custody. The message sent is that citizens have to agree to run the risk of being maimed or family being maimed in order for police to do their jobs. This is the equivalent of a Mafioso saying there are nice things in a home or business and it would be a "shame" if the home or business were damaged. They offer you protection at a price.

    The Baltimore officers were suggesting that black Baltimoreans give up the liberty of criticizing the police for the security offered by heavy-handed policing. A few physical transgressions are acceptable along with paying out millions in legal settlements. "Talking back" to an officer is free speech.

    "As long as the real economy doesn't work for minorities the underground economy will remain a vibrant, yet dangerous choice."

    The "majority" economy is the same. It is not like there is this really fine market where the inequality experienced by many could be replaced by a system of fair exchange by changing some set of rules.

    There is no default fairness going on.

    There is an excellent book "Hero's Fight African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State" by Patricia Fernandez Kelly that looks at how programs set up to aid poor blacks in  Baltimore actually stifle development. The goal of programs is to transform "socially deficient" blacks into idealized middle-class citizens. There is no attempt to change the societal constructs that keep poor people in poverty. One example noted is that misbehavior in class that used to be handle by teachers and principals has now become a police matter.

    Many quote the Moynihan report and cite the breakdown of the black family but ignore the conclusion that racism is what led to the breakdown of the black family. Fernandez Kelly relates a conversation with a colleague about why Kelly spent so much time with a young black girl who was progressing well in school. Before Kelly could respond, the colleague suggested that Kelly spent time with the girl to keep her from getting pregnant. The colleague saw the girl as something flawed. Because poor people are viewed as flawed, the situations that keep poor people oppressed are ignored. We will have an ongoing battle before the approach to poor neighborhoods changes. There was a dagblog about the shaming of people using food stamps. People saw imaginary shellfish. The poor are critiqued at every turn.

    Churches have been pushed to the background in the lives of many Baltimoreans. Some churches are trying to become more involved in the black community.


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