I took a news break for a few days. It was sorely needed.
I have been following the Baltimore news the last few days, though. Twitter has been more useful for following protests than official news outlets: it’s more chaotic, perhaps, but you get a much broader collection of views than you would get otherwise.
It’s a familiar story. A young African-American man, 25, entered police custody. When he arrived at jail, he mysteriously had a broken spine. He was “rushed” to the hospital but succumbed a week later to his injuries.
To this point, Baltimore police officials have not been very forthcoming. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bal-5-things-we-still-dont-know-in-the-freddie-gray-case-20150422-story.html
Police said Gray, who was dragged by officers to a transport wagon, should have gotten immediate medical attention. Batts said the department is investigating whether Gray’s injuries resulted from his arrest or a “rough ride” — in which police vans are driven erratically to harm unbuckled, handcuffed detainees. Batts said Gray could have sustained injuries during arrest and transport.
“We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon as he should have been. No excuses from me. Period,” Batts said. “We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times.”
Except, of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened. The Baltimore Sun released an extensive series of articles about ongoing police brutality settlements in the city. Since 2011, the city has averaged about one settlement every other week.
Moreover, economic inequality remains pretty brutal in Maryland. Even though the state borders Washington DC–a metro area offering some of the highest average salaries to be found– black residents are affected disproportionately badly. The NYTimes featured an article about 1.5 million “missing black men” and many of them, oddly, come from this area.
It does not take a great deal of insight to say that there is ongoing violence in Baltimore. But until yesterday, that violence was largely inflicted by society as a whole upon the city’s residents. When the less-powerful start fighting back, well, suddenly the violence is worth reporting.
If you’re wondering why these protests turned violent, well… how much attention did the broader news media pay to Baltimore before yesterday? Did coverage of Freddie Gray crowd out the White House Correspondents’ Dinner? Or did it take a burning CVS store to do that?