Like most of you I was riveted to my seat on the evening of April 27th watching the scenes of Baltimore burning on CNN. I watched criminals racing through the streets burning businesses, trashing cars and pelting police with rocks. I watched as looters drove up to the mall there in vans, got out and ran inside caring large trash bags only to run out a few minutes later with the bags full of merchandise they had stolen. But one of the most difficult things to watch was as the fire department tried to put some of the blazes out ignorant rioters would run up to the hoses and puncture them then look right into the camera and laugh. And throughout all this there were no police to be found.
“It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”
It was clear from the look on her face at the press conference she was terrified by what was happening and had no real plan on how to control it. As a result of the vacuum in leadership the police remained, for the most part, absent from the area and buildings burned and stores were looted.
As I continued to listen to the continual parade of “guest commentators” on CNN I heard over and over again how all of this was just the frustration by the people. How they were just protesters not criminals. I guess they were looking at a different event than I was. When people start to damage property and steal merchandise they are no longer protestors they are criminals and need to be treated as such. The fact that a public official would go on national TV and say what the Mayor said indicates she is part of the problem not the solution.
What happened to Freddie Grey was inexcusable. The arrest never should have happened but that does not excuse general lawlessness and the events that were witnessed on national television. After the streets had been cleared by police and National Guard then the “good citizens” of Baltimore showed up. They said they were going to take the streets back. I say, good for them, but it was a day late and a dollar short. True some good people were out there during all the trouble trying to calm things down but they were like a tree in a tidal wave and never had a chance.
There are definite issues regarding law enforcement throughout this country that truly need to be resolved. But events like Ferguson and Baltimore seriously distract us from those problems at hand. Some of those “guest commentators” I spoke of earlier said you have to fix the problem so events like this won’t happen again. That is partially true but before you can begin to work on the problem you need to regain control on the streets. This was not done both in Ferguson and Baltimore till after people were hurt and property destroyed.
In the aftermath of this fiasco those responsible for the safety of the citizens of that city have been deflecting the blame like the good politicians they are. The Mayor blamed it all on “outside agitators” yet over three quarters of those arrested were city residents. Someone needs to take responsibility for all this. Someone needs to take control. As of yet those in power seemed to be more interested in saving their political lives than doing the right thing. Who suffers as a result? The good people of Baltimore.