Tuesday, April 28, 2015
When Rioting Becomes a Necessary Evil
Karen E. Quinones Miller
THIS IS A CONTROVERSIAL POST, AND WHILE I WELCOME RESPONSES - BOTH PRO AND CON - I HOPE EVERYONE WILL BE COURTEOUS AND RESPECT THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS
I have always totally agreed with the protests in Baltimore, and after giving it a good amount of thought, I no longer have an issue with the rioting and rioters.
The citizens of Baltimore have tried to work within the system. This is evidenced by the fact that they have a Black mayor, Black police chief, Black U.S. Congressmen, and Blacks on their City Council. Not to mention that the city voted overwhelmingly for a Black U.S.President. So, please don't tell them that they need to stop rioting and start voting. They've done that.
And still the murder around the country of young Black men around the country, including their own Freddie Gray - whose only crime seems to be to have the audacity to have looked a police lieutenant directly in the eye, and then fleeing when the lieutenant approached him.
Freddie Gray is now dead and NOTHING anyone does will change that fact.
But who can blame the Black people in Baltimore for being frustrated? And while I first agreed with the protesting and decried the rioting, I've changed my mind.
I'm old enough to remember the 1967 riots. Detroit, Newark, Los Angeles, etc. Most, if not all, of those riots were sparked by police brutality. All of those riots took place in the areas in which the police brutality took place -- always in a black area -- and all resulted in millions of dollars in destruction.
Seems to me, though, those riots did have some result. They made the federal government sit up and pay attention. Congressional hearings were held; the President (Lyndon Baines Johnson) had a Commission (does anyone remember the name of the Commission? I've forgotten.)put together to investigate the underlying reasons for the rioting.
Millions of federal dollars poured into the neighborhoods destroyed by the rioting in order to rebuild, and -- more importantly -- millions of federal dollars were spent on social programs like pre-school which improved education, job training (remember Manpower, anyone?) and programs designed to better the relationships between the police and the community like the Police Athletic League (PAL). All of these programs no longer exist, by the way.
So let's not be so quick to condemn the rioting as senseless. It's what a group of people who have worked within the system resort to when that system lets them down.
I think the blame should be put on the system rather than the rioters.
And if someone can come up with a better way to get attention and bring about change, please speak up.
But don't tell me it's voting. Baltimore, with its Black police chief, Black City Council, Black Mayor, and our Black president proves that.
Shortly after I posted this, President Obama went on television and made a statement regarding the Baltimore riot. Here's part of what he said:
But in a lengthy response to a question about the latest protest in response to the death of a young black man by police, Obama also said the problem is not new and that the entire country needs to "do some soul-searching."
"If we really want to solve the problem, we could. It would require everybody to say this is important, this is significant and that we just don't pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, when a young man is shot or when his spine is snapped."
He said investment is needed in the communities to bring economic opportunity, including resources for early childhood education and criminal justice reform that breaks the school-to-prison pipeline that is "rendering young men in these communities unemployable." He called for job training programs as well as school reforms.
"That's hard," he said, adding that it "takes a kind of political motivation we haven't seen in quite some time."
"That was a really long answer but I felt pretty strongly about it," the president concluded.
(Please note that the programs he says are needed are the EXACT programs that i stated were given after the '67 Riots.)