The saga of Freddie Gray goes on as Baltimore is being buried in hooliganism in honor ostensibly of the 25-year-old who ran when he saw the police on the morning of 19 April. He was chased down after a two-block race and arrested by the four police-persons, who deposited him in the Paddy Wagon. Somewhere along the way on his trip to jail he suffered a broken neck, reason unclear but perhaps because he was not wearing a Paddy-Wagon seat-belt, sort of like riding in the bed of a pickup, which is not all that dangerous as long as one just sits.

Gray had a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for dealing cocaine, possession of narcotics, illegal gambling, possession of narcotics over 10 grams, manufacturing narcotics, distribution of narcotics, possession of stolen property and burglary, according to state court records. According to the Associated Press, Gray has been in and out of prison on drug convictions since 2008, according to online court records. He was set to start a trial next month on drug charges stemming from a December arrest. It's obvious that Gray was not a choir-boy, notwithstanding his glorious funeral in a church, perhaps “to celebrate his life [of crime?].”

The inevitable “protests” began, relatively peaceful at first but then quite ugly by the following Saturday and then all-out gangbusters on 27 April, when a sort of Palestinian Intifada, Baltimore-style, with kids attacking (successfully) the police by pelting them with anything light enough to pick up and heave, burning cars, etc. – the usual vandalism –took place. Things got serious after nightfall—all-out war with the crashing into and looting of stores of everything, especially liquor, with a lot of the stolen goods dropped on the run to litter the area.

During a recent press conference, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake confirmed that the protesters were being given “space” to “destroy.” This is what she said: “While we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on ... We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to deescalate, and that’s what you saw.”

It's hard to believe that the mayor of a major city would encourage thugs to hurt people, destroy property, and perhaps commit murder. Complementing the obvious stupidity of those words, she didn't even have sense enough to tell “those who wished to destroy” exactly where their “destruction space” was located; however, if she had, the police might have picked up on that and showed up to stop the looting and the burning...put a damper on the fun people have destroying businesses and stealing everything in sight. As it happened, that “space to destroy” was anywhere anyone chose.

So...on the night of 27 April, the “boyz 'n' the hood” took over. Fifteen buildings were burned, stores trashed and completely looted, and 144 cars were burned to their bent frames, though one can be sure none of them belonged to one of the “boyz.” By Tuesday evening, 20 policemen had been injured. The governor tried for five hours to convince the mayor to invite the National Guard to help (invitation required by law) before she came to her senses, if any. She finally held a press conference on the twenty-seventh and announced that a curfew would be in place beginning not that night but on the next night. Go figure.

There's a war between black Baltimore thugs—dope dealers, gang members, muggers, common thieves—and public safety is the issue. If the “boyz” get the upper-hand, the entire city is held hostage. The city is administered by African Americans—mayor, police commissioner, police patrol chief, city council president—and the City Council of 15 (based on their pictures) includes 8 blacks, more than half. Baltimore is 64% black and 30% white. There's no apparent discrimination at the the top. Forty-six percent of police officers are white, less than half the force. So...Baltimore is what blacks make it, good or bad.

Baltimore was not Ferguson, even though the president blathered something about changing police culture in the Bergdahl Garden (once called Rose Garden). He said, “We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African Americans, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions.” The top police guy in Baltimore explained that no effort was made to stop the looters because they were 15- and 16-year-old kids. The owners of 15 or more businesses could eat cake and go bankrupt.

The riot was accounted by a lot of folks as the most shameful riot in Baltimore since 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. It seemed that no one thought to explain that MLK was not shot by a police officer or any other official. He was killed while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis by James Earl Ray, who went to prison, where he died at age 70 in 1998. As for national responsibility for Baltimore, the president is black, the attorney general is black and the secretary of homeland security is black; however, Obama didn't say that a possible son would be just like Freddie Gray.

So far, the president has not seen fit to sic Attorney General Lynch on Baltimore, as he did by sending former AG Holder and a federal lynch-gang to Ferguson, but stay tuned. The feds drew a blank in Ferguson but maybe they can find someone to crucify in Baltimore.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark