Freddie Gray and Baltimore

There is A LOT of information out there circulating around the protests happening in
Baltimore, the death of Freddie Gray, and the state of police power as a systematic tool of oppression. We won’t try to provide any kind of summary—a quick perusal of #baltimoreriots will give you that.

Photo @TheDailyBeast // Twitter

Photo @TheDailyBeast // Twitter

We will, however, draw your attention to both the riots and their “bigger picture.” Violent looting and rioting is difficult to outright condone, but it is understandable once you begin to think of the context in which such actions occur. Baltimore is not an isolated incident (neither was Ferguson), but a culmination of a long, violent system of exploitation and abuse  rooted in racial oppression.

Photo @Slate // Twitter

Photo @Slate // Twitter

This article from The New Inquiry puts it better than I could, and I urge you to read it and consider the rhetoric that drives media accounts of “looting,” as well as the perverted logic that presents violence done to property as far more worthy of our outrage than violence done to human beings.

As the Vox article below states, the situation in Baltimore also highlights the way race and class intersect to create systems of oppression—because the police force in Baltimore is racially mixed, this is not just something that can be “boiled down” to black citizens versus a white police force, though that is certainly still operative. It is rather a reminder that violence against black communities is perpetuated not only through physical violence, but economic isolation as well.

Further reading:

The Guardian on (racialized) economic violence: “We cannot breathe if we can’t eat”

The Baltimore Sun documents the striking history of police brutality and undue violence in the city. 

Mic.com highlights the media’s double standard in presenting “black looters” 

Vox looks into a history of police distrust and brutality

Ta-Nehisi Coates addresses the issue of nonviolence

On the death of Freddie Gray


First published April 28, 2015.

Updated: April 30, 2015. May 2, 2015.

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