Officer Alex remembers another violent time in Baltimore—and what it didn’t solve
“The Baltimore Riots.”
The month of April: Three hundred African-Americans gathered peacefully downtown around noon for a memorial service, which lasted until 2 p.m. without incident.
More and more people began to gather after the service, and soon a crowd formed in East Baltimore...and by 5 p.m., some windows began being smashed on Gay Street. Police began to move in.
People began to report fires after 6 p.m.; soon after, the city declared an 11 p.m. curfew and called in 6,000 troops from the National Guard. Sales of alcohol and firearms were immediately banned. The crowd by now had grown to at least a thousand people.
Around 8 p.m., Governor Spiro T. Agnew declared a state of emergency.
By the next morning, reports to the White House described five deaths, 300 fires, and 404 arrests and rioting had now spread to West Baltimore as well. And to make matters worse, a mob of white counter-rioters assembled near Baltimore’s Patterson Park; they dispersed after National Guard troops prevented them from entering a black neighborhood.
Before it was over, 10,956 federal troops had been deployed, six were killed, 700 were injured, 1,200 fires were lit, 5,800 arrests were made and 1,000 small businesses destroyed or robbed.
All of that was caused by anger over the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.
The riots of 2015? Ask somebody. Anybody. “Someone died in police custody” is as far as most get in their in-depth response, because they don’t really know what caused the death, only that they’re upset about it, and what more do you need? It’s Showtime.
Irrational acts, I get. Mob mentality? Same thing. But the people justifying it? Stating that “the burning of a CVS is offensive, but the murder of black men at the hands of police is not somehow, so therefore they deserve to riot to prove a point”?
The small business owners and citizens should exempt these people from their otherwise-expected civic duty to not burn and pillage everything in sight? And my favorite: “These aren’t rioters, these are protesters”?
Please. Whether you like it or not, sometimes a protest is just a riot camouflaged in self-righteousness. It might not start that way, and the actors themselves might not think that it is…but in this case, a cigar is a freakin’ cigar, folks.
No matter how you want to paint it or promote it, rioting, burning and randomly assaulting people isn’t the answer to anything except a brutal response by the majority of people who have an expectation of not living in an impulse-dominated war zone.
None of the lawlessness taking place is part of some romantic notion of “anarchy” being utilized to restore balance. No. It’s just burning and hurting people. And that’s the key: No matter how “right” you think you are, people are getting hurt.
The credibility of those supporting these actions looks exactly like the remains of the burned-out cars of hardworking people and ruined small business owners’ smoldering storefronts. You sided with lawlessness, with hypocrisy, with madness. You’re wrong.
This isn’t the way to the change you’re looking for. This is the way to justify an even harder fist than the one you blamed initially as part of an agenda, or part of a lesson in extreme short-sightedness.
Property values in Ferguson, Missouri have plummeted 47 percent since the “justified” riots (naturally caused by “outside agitators”) over Michael Brown. You know, the one who didn’t have his “hands up.” Still justified?
This is not the way, people. The traffic cone in the car window? The Red Bull table thrown through the local bar window? Robbing the reporter telling your story?
You’re doing it wrong. (Again.)
And would you look at that! As I’m writing this, I see that the National Guard is arriving on scene in Baltimore. (Again.)
Good luck making the rioters’ behavior their fault next.
This is not the way. Prior failures, “lack of a voice,” whatever your excuse (for that’s exactly what it is), this…is not the way. You know it, so stop covering for it.
For the cops out there? Hold the line, ladies and gentlemen. The public thinks that line is a wall of silence, but you and I know what it really is: It’s that line you’re drawing now between order and chaos.
That is the Thin Blue Line.
Hold it steady. The 99 percent that aren’t giving in to every carnal criminal impulse will thank you for it, trust me.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.