Baltimore, called "Charm City" by its fans and promoters, has its charms. But tonight, Baltimore is in flames. Baltimore city councilman Nick Mosby said the furor in Baltimore is due to failed policies of decades. This is reminiscent of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's views that many dependency-creating policies that began in the 1960s would result, in the long-term, in deeper dependency for future generations.
Whether or not the problem in Baltimore tonight is due to failed policies of decades, it's too late for a policy change that could help Freddie Gray, who died over a week ago after an arrest in Baltimore.
Some would say that Baltimore has a chance IF the truth is told about what
happened in the events around the death of a young man, 25 years old, a
week after a rough arrest. After his arrest and handcuff restraints, his ride in a police van was rough and without seat belt security, although he was crying out in pain. Who knows what
happened after that? A week later he was dead. When the on-going investigation results are made public, perhaps some calm can begin to return to the city.
Then, the arrests and prosecution of any police responsible for
the injuries and death of Freddie Gray must begin. Meanwhile, the delays toward stopping the ensuing rioting and putting in a curfew (scheduled to begin tomorrow night) give an appearance of failure due to political concerns.
As I watch the reporting from Baltimore tonight, I see what appear to be members of the looted community picking up debris in the streets and sweeping glass and trash out of the way. This is an event that deserves media attention and respect. Those people doing that cleanup area are among what Baltimore calls "Baltimore's Best." They and others like them are, I believe, a big part of the hope of Baltimore.
A big part of Baltimore's hope, I believe, are the merchants in the area being covered on television now. What will happen in their communities without them is unknown. Their businesses are being destroyed as we watch, and police have, oddly, been told to hold back.
These thoughts come to mind: Is this about Freddie Gray? Are city merchants perceived by rioters to be "rich" and they see themselves as "poor" in comparison? "You have a job and I don't, so I'm gonna burn down where you work"? "You have a car, and I don't, so I'm gonna steal and burn your car." I have no idea if such thoughts are on the mark in Baltimore's chaos tonight. But I cannot help wondering why people would burn down stores in their own city.
I cannot understand why people feeling injured decide to injure others that have no connection to their situation. Meanwhile, the latest report is of a senior citizen retirement center on fire and a church's new community center under construction...has been set ablaze. Baltimore's skies tonight are fire-red over many areas.
I live within 40 minutes of Baltimore, and that's a short drive for us. We go straight north on I-95 to Camden Yards, the Orioles' baseball team home stadium. My family has enjoyed for many years the Inner Harbor, Camden Yards, ESPN Zone, and other old and new landmarks. The restaurant choices suit any budget or taste. I've marveled at the array of fresh foods at Lexington Market, also looted last night.
Baltimore is a multicultural city that descendants of early immigrants from Africa and Europe are proud to claim. We share a sad bond tonight with Baltimore, an intense anguish that on this evening of the day of Freddie Gray's funeral...Baltimore is burning.