Blame Baltimores Riots On Its Politicians

There are always complicated root causes behind why riots like these occur, but either people disagree about those causes and their reasons, or they simply don’t like admitting what they are.    There already have been comparisons to Ferguson, but Baltimore’s burning cityscape is the fault of those much closer to home.

Baltimore is no Ferguson. What they do share in common is arguably the issue with police abuse, harassment, ect that is encouraged and often demanded by local municipal governments that are out of control; raking every last cent out of people through taxes, fees, fines, and tickets.

In fact, let’s call a spade a spade.

More Riots Will Follow...
Victoria Bekiempis/Newsweek

Since 1967, Baltimore has been firmly controlled by democrats/liberals from the police to the schools to the ordinances.  They’ve been shaping these policies for over 40 years and should bare the responsibility for the situation that has resulted from their (1) heinous leadership, (2), inability to understand basic economics, (3) their quivering and cronyism to “certain” businesses, (4) their insistence on unaffordable city employee salaries and pensions.

The blame must be laid squarely on their shoulders.

 

Well, what about racism in the power structure of Baltimore?

9 of the 15 council members are black.

The state’s attorney and city council president are black.

The mayor is black.

The police chief is black.

What about the police?

“Half of the sworn command staff are minorities.”

48% of the police force currently are black.

55% of all the new applicants are minorities as well.

So racially reflecting the community doesn’t seem to be alleviating the tension here…

What about the economy in Baltimore?

Baltimore itself carries the fourth highest tax rate of any city in the nation.   (Emphasis on families who make over 150k a year and pay most of that tax.)

The poverty rate within the city is nearly 25 percent.

And its been ruled by the same people for 40+ years.    Should we still blame someone else?

So what is causing these people to be angry, devoid of opportunities, and in a state of mind to actually consider a riot?

Sputnik interviewed Baltimore local,  Antonio Willingham on Tuesday and he shed some light on the city’s rather lackluster economic reality with two important observations:

The issues run deeper than police violence in Baltimore, because the government has been closing schools and recreation centers while youth have been alienated by law enforcement officers. Police officers used to have closer ties with the young men and women in Baltimore’s neighborhoods, Willingham explained.

“We have one of the highest murder rates in the country. I do not like the black-on-black crime. They act like it is acceptable to have these guns in our neighborhoods and to target each other and kill each other.” 

Another man interviewed by BigstoryAP had similar things to say about Baltimore’s economy.

“You look around and see unemployment. Filling out job applications and being turned down because of where you live and your demographic. It’s so much bigger than the police department,” said Robert Stokes, 36, holding a broom and a dustpan on a corner where some of the looting and vandalism took place.

He added: “This place is a powder keg waiting to explode.”

 What Else?

Some have pointed to Gray’s rather extensive criminal record as one of the reasons for his death.  Regardless of his criminal record, a trial by jury should occur before execution by those in blue.   His criminal record is also all drug related, so he isn’t anymore “dangerous” then a 3rd of all the other citizens of this country who indulge in recreational drug use and sometime distribution.

  • March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance
  • March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault
  • January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing
  • January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute
  • December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute
  • December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing
  • January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana
  • September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second-degree escape
  • April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation
  • July 16, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute
  • March 28, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • March 14, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to manufacture and distribute
  • February 11, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • August 29, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, violation of probation
  • August 28, 2007: Possession of marijuana
  • August 23, 2007: False statement to a peace officer, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
  • July 16, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (2 counts)

Well why did he have to sell drugs in the first place to survive? Blame can be leveled at the appropriate party once more – the Baltimore city government which had helped to choke the life out of economic opportunities.

You’ll recognize similar traits in other large cities in the US, often controlled by liberals such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, L.A., ect.   (This doesn’t excuse those run by conservatives either.)

– The incredible power of police unions that prevent any accountability to the local people.
– Local governments that are giving incredibly lucrative salaries to government employees which the city has to pay for.
– A vicious pushing of fees, fines, tickets, ect on any possible offenders to rake in money to pay for those government employees to offset the lack of tax dollars being generated from the cities economic plight.
– Plenty of “Got Ya!” offenses to nail people with so that they extract the above out of them. Conside the “zero tolerance policy of Baltimore’s Mayor, O’Malley  – a popular democrat who is now trying to run for President in 2016.

Remember why Eric Garner was killed in New York? He was trying to survive and make some money by selling “illegal” cigarettes on the side.   Why was that even profitable? Why are the taxes on cigarettes so high in New York?  Why was he so poor he had to resort to selling illegal cigarettes? 

Additional blame can of course be leveled at the Federal government for it’s continued part in the drug war which will lead to many more Freddie Grays.

The people of Baltimore have continually voted in politicians who perpetuate the terrible economic situations they create an environment so hopeless, that the rage and anger of a riot actually seems like a valid option.   Stefan Molyneux gives a very good background and context to past decisions in Baltimore which have led to this firestorm.


What’s even more unfortunate is what gets torched, looted, and trashed in these riots – the properties of the locals – who will not justify the misplaced targeting when their businesses are burning.

Do we even have to mention how hapless the mayor has handled the situation? How she has exacerbated the rioters and the situation?  Or essentially encouraged and excused the lootings and burnings?  No, her comments weren’t taken out of context.

Mike Cernovich, is a licensed attorney who makes some extremely important points on his legal blog, “Crime And Federalism” as to why trust in the police and their lack of accountability is so bad not just in Baltimore, but in the entire country.

1. I’ve worked on actual police misconduct litigation cases for years and am one of few people who understand Section 1983 litigation. If you don’t know what qualified immunity is and don’t get the “Scalia’s new police professionalism” inside joke, you aren’t allowed to have an opinion on my civil rights bona fides. (I’m talking to you, hashtag activists.)

2. I’ve known and spoken out about the problem of police misconduct for almost 20 years. The problem has only gotten worse and will continue to get worse until liberals question some of their deeply-held assumptions about how the world does and should work.

3. Police unions make it nearly impossible for a police force to fire a corrupt or abusive officer. The same hashtag activists posting on Twitter are pro-union. The cognitive dissonance astounds.

Also, under most police union contracts, officers themselves are not held liable for their misconduct. If an officer beats you with a baton, you sue and win, it’s the city who pays up.

4. Affirmative action, another darling of liberals, allows abusive and unqualified officers to be hired for the force, and because of unions, it’s nearly impossible to fire them.

5. Black officers are just as likely to beat a black man as a white officer is. Power is color blind, and weird things happen to people when they put on that blue uniform, pin on a shiny badge, and strap themselves with a Glock.

6. Congress could cut police misconduct in half by eliminating the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity.

7. In fact, qualified immunity is the most important issue in civil rights cases. Anyone who is not talking about qualified immunity is a talking head who lacks serious understanding of police misconduct.

8. Qualified immunity provides  police who break the law get a free pass. This NY civil rights lawyer explain the doctrine well:

I often write about qualified immunity. This a legal doctrine that allows public defendants in civil rights cases to win the case if their objectionable actions did not violate clearly established law even if, in hindsight, the court finds that their actions were in fact illegal.

In other words, ignorance of the law is an excuse if you’re a cop. Conduct covered by qualified immunity has included using a tazer to torture a man, sodomizing a man with a police baton, and sexually assaulting a woman. 

How can police get a pass for obviously immoral conduct? Simple. Power protects power. Judges view themselves as being on the same team as police and prosecutors. 

9. If you want to reduce police abuses, petition Congress to abolish qualified immunity. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for citizens, and it should be no excuse for those who have sworn to uphold the law.

10. Police misconduct is such a problem that when I and my white civil rights lawyer friend were confronted by police, we felt our safety was in legitimate danger.

I encourage you to read his entire post for better insight into the situation this country faces.  Future riots over police killings and economic unrest in general aren’t a question of “if”, but “when”.  JustAnotherVet makes this point:

“It’s not amazing that this riot is happening in a major US city. It is amazing that riots like this aren’t happening in every major city as a response to the systematic racism, police brutality, imprisonment and overall disrespect and contempt hurled at minorities in this country”

Ignore the identity politics appeal and his becomes very valid.  So get yourself some fire-arms; you may need them to prevent yourself from either becoming another Freddie Gray or a victim of some looter who thinks he can burn down your business.

Toddlers, Perspective, Drugs, and Flashbanging Swat Raids.

My family is a diverse  and divided one, and I love it.  Not just racially, but politically and on all those “controversial” issues which you aren’t supposed to bring up at the dinner table at family parties.  Well I’m a true rebel and I bring up that crap anyway.  So I somewhat… started up a huge debate on gun control with my family. (My aunt for a while was of the opinion that we didn’t need guns because the cops would always be there in time to protect people. Note I live about 50 minutes from Chicago.)

It ended up in everyone shouting, my Uncle putting my Aunt in an armlock, my Uncle yelling at my Grandpa for bailing him out of jail – I didn’t even know that happened – my Dad yelling about my Aunt being a cop and it distorting her perspective. It literally looked like something out of a movie.  Wait.  Right there, that magic word – Perspective.

Me and my Dad both hold rather “anti-cop” views – according to cops that is on PoliceOne – the site where if a cop blows up kittens on public television – the use of that force must somehow be justified.  My aunt is a cop and tends to view things from their point-of-view, even if the video evidence is pretty damning. She points out that there are always two sides to the story. I’m not sure what other “sides” to the story there can be in some of the headlines over the years that I have seen – and the one’s I’ll list are just three out of the hundreds.  So just for background:

1. The Kelly Thomas beatdown – that homeless man in Seattle who they literally beat to death as he called for his dad for over 10 minutes.  Seriously, watch the video. It’s sickening and disturbing. I’m EXTREMELY manly, but it made me cry.  Image

2. A “no knock” recent swat raid on a house in Georgia where they “suspected” drugs were located. It’s “unclear” whether they found drugs or not – That means they did not – but they did throw a flashbang in the house that melted off part of the face of a two year old toddler, burned a hole in his chest, and now has him in a coma.  It reads like something out of a movie where everything goes wrong for a family, but the video of the kid really shows how – fucked up – this really is.

3. An 80 year-old man killed in his own bed in a swat raid where the police were looking for Meth. They didn’t find any and were forced to change their story after bloodstains in the man’s bed indicated that he had been sleeping.  “Put the gun down!” apparently was shouted after the six shots were fired… not before.  What side could the deputy who pulled the trigger have to justify his actions?

Sidenote: Below, courtesy of Cato is a map of many botched Swat Raids. It should trouble you. Their site has the “interactive” map for you to scour through.

Image

I list those three examples specifically because of the perspective on the other end toward what happened.  The perspective of the district attorney and the GBI (George Bureau of Investigation) emphasized by the County Sheriff (Terrell) on the injured Toddler story mentioned above blew my mind.

“I’ve talked to the D.A., I’ve talked to the GBI,” Terrell said. “I’ve given them the whole information and they say there’s nothing else we can do. There’s nothing to investigate, there’s nothing to look at. Given the information given, GBI’s SWAT team would have done the exact same thing – they’d have used the exact same scenario to enter the house.”

As Radley Balko points out in his article on the Washington Post about this story and the SWAT policy for raids:

If your drug cops conduct a raid that ends up putting a child in the hospital with critical burns, and they did nothing that violates your department’s policy, then there’s something wrong with your policy.

However, I’ve seen cops defend this burned toddler pointing to the perspective of the SWAT team, notably at the fore-mentioned PoliceOne facebook page where what I assume is mostly officers exchange stories of “winning”. Note some of these perspectives:

  • “As sad as this is this is not the fault of the Police. The scum bag mother is to blame here.”
  • “WOW, REALLY? I CAN’T BELIEVE THE NUMBER OF “SO CALLED” OFFICERS ON THIS THREAD THAT ARE BLAMING THE POLICE ON THIS ISSUE! DID YOU READ THE ARTICLE?  THIS WAS NOT THE INJURED CHILD’S HOME. THE FAMILY WAS VISITING FROM OUT OF TOWN. THE PROBLEM IS THEY WERE SLEEPING IN A DRUG PUSHER’S HOME!!!!SAD, YES, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. THE CHILD SUFFERED FOR HIS PARENTS STUPIDITY. DON’T BLAME THE OFFICERS WHEN THE RESPONSIBILITY LIES WITH THE ADULT PARENTS IN THIS SITUATION!” –   (What is this Tumblr with the all caps?)
  •  “They did nothing wrong. Don’t take a infant to a drug house and this would not happen.”
  • ” Here’s an idea. Don’t sell drugs and cops won’t throw flashbangs into your house.”
  • “Dont commit crimes and things like this wont happen…..yeah blame the police for doing their jobs arresting POS criminals. This is the families fault this baby is injured. NOT the police.”
  • “Meanwhile, keeping a toddler in the home of violent felons, meth labs, dangerous criminals walking in and out on a daily basis high on dope, and complete disregsrd for any care for a toddler is ignored. Charge the parents an extra felony for the innocent childs suffering.”

The Facebook posts to the article go on and on.  What’s fascinating is that the drug fiend they were looking for was the husband’s brother who didn’t even live there, nor was there at the time when the raid occurred.  Essentially, we all better hope that none of our friends or family does, partakes, deals, ect – with or without your knowledge – and come’s back home for Thanksgiving because a SWAT team could bust through the door and toss military grade hardware your way.

What this all boils down to is that no matter who gets hurt, the cops they will justify whatever happens because from their perspective, it appears to be us vs. them; they are first and we are a distant second.  I love my Aunt dearly, but she said something that has disturbed me in conversations over things of this nature, “I will do whatever I need to do get back home safe to my family.”  I understand that, but imagine all the other cops who think like this. I hope I’m not deemed an obstacle to said safety from their perspective.

I don’t have a particular vendetta, even though my aunt believes I do. I have no criminal record, though I am still perturbed at some of the bullshit traffic tickets I’ve gotten. I won’t pretend to say I don’t have a bias, but when I see injustice like this excused it angers me. When a toddler has part of his face burnt off, a hole in his chest, and is in a coma in what is essentially an appeal to “safety” for the SWAT team by flashbanging without knocking or investigating to see if children were present, we have a deep problem.

Seriously. Justify it. I dare you. Look at it from “their perspective” and justify the botched raids and what happened to people like Kelly Thomas.  Even if “use of force” is/was justified, their deaths certainly were not.

We need to be deeply worried about the prevalence of this assumption among Law Enforcement that “resisting” arrest automatically means it’s acceptable to use lethal force to subdue a “suspect.”  I seriously don’t give a fuck if the suspect is resisting or not. It doesn’t mean you need to kill them or use excessive force. 

I strongly suggest LEO’s would be less likely to endorse excessive force of they or their families were subjected to their all too common playbook.

Everyday there is a story of excessive force by the police, brutality, mistaken shootings. We need to address this growing epidemic of state sponsored brutality before we, our families, and are friends become suspects and subject to this treatment.