Baltimore cannot change while blinded by rage

By Copy Chief

Following the April 19 death of Freddie Gray—a Baltimore man who died from spinal cord injuries he received while in police custody—riots and flames engulfed the city of Baltimore, once again sparking debate about police abuses of power and racial tensions between citizens and police officers.

Although some demonstrations were peaceful, others left buildings and cars ablaze while rioters casually looted businesses. Rioters jumped on police car windshields to crack them. A Baltimore rioter even cut a fire hose on April 27 that prevented police from saving a burning building, as reported live on CNN that day.

Similar to Chicago, Baltimore has a negative reputation as a violent American city. By rioting, the people of Baltimore are not changing that. There have been at least 196 murders in Baltimore every year between 2000 and 2012. The only year in that time frame with fewer than 200 murders was 2011, according to the city’s data.

It is significant to distinguish Baltimore from Ferguson, Missouri, because Baltimore is a predominantly black city, with the 2010 census population showing that 63.7 percent of Baltimore residents are black and less than 30 percent are white. The mayor and the police chief are both black, which further differentiates the situations of the two cities.

Claiming riots are justified defies logic. There may be valid issues and emotions behind the violence and destruction, but that does not warrant the rioters’ actions.

It is imperative that police brutality is addressed, but doing so through looting and endangering innocent lives is counterproductive, and it is not the manner in which problems are effectively solved—it is the method by which revolts give rise to a generation embedded with hate.

Cutting a fire department’s hose to show discontent with the law and the system in which society is meant to work is a destructive way to prove that the law and the system are both necessary for the greater good and for the survival of a nation.

People are fighting for justice, but their efforts are ignorant.

The fact that people are looting shows that they are taking for their own personal gain without regard for those who earned their belongings. It becomes evident when the crime is irrelevant to the greater issue that these rioters are not fighting for Gray—the reason these riots started in the first place—they are fighting for other, unrelated reasons.

Concerns about racial justice and police brutality get lost when people of all races and professions are being robbed indiscriminately.

There are small communities throughout the world that are strong because they are full of trust and sharing, and then there is the U.S. In a country with likely the greatest diversity, people are unable to set aside differences to live peacefully because they are too concerned with their personal beliefs becoming the law of the land.

Violence should not be the method of reaction. That is, it should not be a mode of problem solving because it does not solve problems. Violence perpetuates more violence, creating a dangerous cycle that teaches children who witness it to hate, whether that correlation is conscious or subconscious.

Those who disregard the law to riot in Baltimore must understand that robbery and violence are not just against the law, but they are also morally unjust.

It is when innocent citizens are robbed and assaulted that they believe their efforts in their lives and in their jobs are in vain. That makes them give up on each other and on themselves, creating a defeatist mindset that makes people dismissive of wrongdoings around them. The ability to distinguish between right and wrong and to understand that tragedies happen is key.

Justice must be found, but responding to a tragedy with anger and vengeance instead of patience and reason does nothing more than exacerbate the tragedy.

Vengeance and violence were not the answers in addressing the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and they are not the answers in Baltimore, either.

The answer is to have regard and compassion for human life. The peaceful protesters in Baltimore—overshadowed on television by the rioters—should continue their efforts and press officials to make themselves accountable for what happened to give the city’s residents a reason to believe them.