If you’ve been keeping up the news in Baltimore, there have been protests after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died in the hospital after receiving mysterious injuries after an arrest. Right now, the Baltimore police that were present during his arrest and during the van ride are facing criminal charges. I’m going to talk about the arguments and comments about the protests surrounding Freddie Gray’s situation.
True, some rioted, but referring to the whole story as riots uses charged language to manipulate the narrative. Calling them the Baltimore Riots ignores all the protests before and during the destructive behaviour of some. It also ignores the online presence, especially on Twitter. It ignores the previous movements for Black Lives Matter that have been targeting the issues of police brutality and the targeting of black individuals. The charged language of “Riots” or “Violence” shows the media/societal bias towards black movements.
Other movements where citizens rise up against oppression are called protests and uprisings. The Arab Spring, Civil Rights Movement, and French Revolution had elements of violence as well as a populace that fought against an oppressive power. Why is it that two of these images get to be an admirable resistance, while the other is branded a time of unrest and destruction?
A more obvious bias is shown with the diminishing of white violence as something non-threatening or deserving of intense scrutiny. When black people get violent about being murdered it’s scary, but when white people get violent about pumpkin festivals it’s rambunctious. The same narrative happened with the Ferguson protests.
— Matt Weinecke (@MattTW) October 19, 2014
We all know the word you really want to say.
Wanna know something some about actual thugs/gangsters in Baltimore? Some of them had a truce during the protests. That should give you a sign on how seriously people are taking this movement.
Holy shit, Joseph Conrad. I know you don’t mean this in the sense that “all human beings are technically animals.” This is straight-up dehumanizing terminology. Black people have been called animals/savages/monkeys in the past. Jewish people were called rats and vermin to excuse anti-semitism and the atrocities of the Holocaust. This is a common tactic used to excuse horrible actions against others because we label as sub-human. So, go pat yourself on the back for sounding like a Nazi.
“They Burned Down A CVS”
People are outraged about murder and you’re worried about a CVS? Talk about priorities. It is awful that people have ruined property, but people have done it for less important causes (pumpkins).
— CaIIum Davies (@CaIIumDavies) April 27, 2015
Also, “they” didn’t burn down a CVS. Some people did. I’ve never understood why we expect black people to be responsible for one another. They are not an organization that needs to monitor each others’ actions for our sake – that should be the police.
“MLK Wouldn’t Do This“
MLK was a great man who advocated for peaceful protest, but he also wasn’t the only person in the Civil Rights Movement. MLK gets praise, because he made change in a way that doesn’t make white people uncomfortable. We feel less guilty because he made nice speeches. Black outrage makes us feel guilty. Reality is too bitter a pill to swallow, so we shame others for not sugar-coating it for us.
Even if I ignore the blatant cherry-picking of one activist within a movement, let me just remind you that MLK was killed for his peaceful protests. He still died for what he did. What kind of message is that? Even if you might die for your beliefs, still make sure to be nice about it?
If you know your head might be on the chopping block, do you think you’re going to be worried about being polite?
“Peaceful Protest Is The Only Way“
I’d like to add that peaceful implies a quiet and slow movement. It doesn’t demand immediate attention. Asking for peace is asking for people to calm their outrage. It hopes for people to give up after their movement gains little attention, to recede back to acceptance and apathy. Here’s a quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates to sum it up:
When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.
“All Lives Matter”
Saying BlackLivesMatter draws attention to the negativity that black people experience. Saying AllLivesMatter takes away from the message and is completely unnecessary. It’s one of those “Egalitarian” movements that denies the real historical/cultural/systemic injustices that certain groups deal with.
“Blue Lives Matter”
Police are not the victims here. They have the guns and the power and the consistent luck of getting away with murder.
“This Is Unbelievable“
This one gets me the most. It is not unbelievable. Society already set up the kindling for the “riots”. We can’t be shocked when an incident like Freddie Gray sparks a fire.
People in these communities are targeted by police. They are harassed and arrested for crimes as vague as jaywalking or loitering. If they are brutalized or killed, mainstream media victim blames and puts them in a bad light. If they aren’t murdered, they’re incarcerated, entering a prison system that depends on them returning. Society sets them up to fail. Is it really unbelievable to watch people who are tired and angry lash out at the system that traps them?
If you still have a hard time understanding this, just watch The Hunger Games and look at how the fictional dystopia is horribly similar to what’s going on in Baltimore.
— #AllBlackLivesMatter (@PoCBeauty) April 28, 2015