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Baltimore

NOTE Meditating changing the headline to "Baltimore: Day One." Nah. Let's be optimistic.

I'd hoped to re-introduce myself a bit more gracefully, but needs must. My Twitter list exploded, so a quick sitrep. Times are when I posted the info, not when the event described occurred. I'll go back and link in a bit after I survey matters:

UPDATE on Baltimore. From various sources I read:

1) Very heavy police presence today, including county police in addition to Baltimore’s. (This is often a very bad sign, since poor coordination between different forces leads to violence, certainly during Occupy Oakland.)

2) Incident where high schoolers pepper-sprayed tear-gassed on leaving school.

3) Clash between police and protesters after Freddie Gray funeral.

4) Hotels in Baltimore area being booked (implication: Those who can getting out/and or influx of protesters).

5) Family members tweeting advice on how to get out.

6) Tactical vehicles said to have been spotted.

7) Maryland governor [Hogan] declares state of emergency [[8:06PM]. This might not end well. Will be interesting to find out what people see from the windows of the Acela — which passes through Baltimore — tomorrow.

"This afternoon, a group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers. Right now, we have seven officers that have serious injuries, including broken bones, and one officer who is unconscious," Capt. Eric Kowalczyk told reporters.

Maybe. We'll have to see.

"This is not OK," Kowalczyk said. "You're going to see tear gas. You're going to see pepper balls. We're going to use appropriate methods to ensure that we're able to preserve the safety of that community."

Rocks, bricks. Pray god that's all.

* * *

Just to declare my priors, I'm an advocate of strategic non-violence. I'm not a Ghandian; I want to win, and I think that's the best way to get 80% of the population on "our side," without creating the conditions for "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." I'm also not a "worse is better" guy, i.e., I don't think "sharpening the contradictions" is always all to the good; I think worse is worse.

All that said, I liked what the son of the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, John Angelos (!) had to say in USA Today (!!), though in my book the first paragraph is a bit dogmatic:

Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Now to round up some sourcing... My views evolve as I go, so cum grano salis.. .

7:56PM EST Seems like the "race war" frame is out there on the right.

* * *

One reason Baltimore is, er, concerning is that it's a good deal more central than St. Louis. The Northeast Corridor runs right through it, raising the possibility of arterial interdiction. I read (too lazy to find the link) that its history of residential segregation is even worse than St. Louis, which is saying something [NOTE: Can't verify this]. Further, Baltimore is only 40 miles from DC, meaning that all the security and intelligence forces arrayed around DC can be deployed. Next, and this is entirely subjective and may in fact be ignorance on my part because I came in late, I don't get the positive vibe -- the strategic sense and the discipline -- from the Baltimore protests that I did from Ferguson starting on the first day; local leadership on the ground is so important, even though we don't read about it in the papers until long afterward, if it all.[1] (The counter-argument here is that these events, for Baltimore, are the equivalent of one real riot in Ferguson; the Mike Brown verdict the trigger in the one case, Freddie Gray's funeral in the other.) Finally, we might note that both governors, of Missouri and Maryland, are Democrats, and so have unquestioned access to whatever resources Obama chooses to give them.) [Wrong; Hogan is a Republican. Might work on the mayoral level, though, as in Occupy.] So everything could blow out in a day. However, events are moving very fast, much faster than in Ferguson, and so whatever police -- and National Guard? -- forces are being deployed may just be throwing gasoline on the flames.

* * *

8:22PM Mayor orders [week-long] curfew, statement:

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake [a Democrat and herself black, interestingly enough] declared a city-wide curfew beginning Tuesday at 10 p.m. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency as night fell and activated the National Guard to address the violence and unrest in the city that has been racked by increasingly tense protests since the weekend.

"Too many people have spent a generation building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who in a very senseless way are trying to tear down what so many have fought for," Rawlings-Blake said.

I'd call that not helpful. (Incidentally, Google news is utterly polluted by wingers; hard to see that this is algorithmic, or else the algorithm has some odd parameters.

8:30PM Al Sharpton to lead march from Baltimore to DC. The Black Misleadership Class moves fast!

8:35PM Baltimore Sun describes school incident, rioting in West Baltimore. Granted, it only takes one spark, but we're looking at under ten stores being looted, and any time the police can't deal with a high school crowd without using tear gas, it's a clusterfuck of some kind. The whole story reads like it was thrown together. The Sun can be a great paper, but it needs to up it's game, here.

8:42PM Sun headline: Baltimore Police say they have received a "credible threat" that rival gangs have teamed up to "take out" law enforcement officers.. I knew that photograph of the Crips and the Bloods together would draw some response. That said, (a) "They would say that, wouldn't they," (b) if this were the FBI, I'd assume an agent provocateur anyhow, and (c) an action like that takes organization and teamwork, and it would seem the planning would have assumed that what is happening, would happen. (I.e., the cops, whoever else the fusion centers are sending, the state of emergency, and the curfew else would have been already, as it were, "priced in"). As a corallary, (d) there's no reason for such a thing not to happen tonight.

8:53PM The funeral earlier today:

Among the thousands who packed the church were celebrated activist Dick Gregory and family members of Trayvon Martin. Also in attendance were politicians: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her predecessor, Sheila Dixon, who drew rousing applause from the crowd; Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Sarbanes and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume; and several representatives from the Obama administration, including Broderick Johnson, the Baltimore native who heads the president's My Brother's Keeper initiative to empower black youth.

As mourners filed in solemnly, video screens alternated the message "BLACK LIVES MATTER" and "& ALL LIVES MATTER."

Some of Baltimore's most prominent ministers formed a semicircle behind Gray's casket, the Rev. Harold A. Carter Jr. of New Shiloh, the Rev. Frank Reid III of Bethel AME, and Bryant among them, as well as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

I'll have to wait for BAR's post on this to sort the Black Misleadership Class members, though I'm sure "several representatives from the Obama administration" fall into that category. It's the banners that get me; I know "All lives matter" is true, as a generic statement; but it always shows up on #BlackLivesMatter rather in the manner of one who crashes a funeral of somebody who died of cancer, shouting "I too, have suffered." A sign of being out of touch, to me (from my armchair at 30,000 feet). I'm about as white as white can be, and I really don't need to hear anybody say "All lives matter": that's just a dominance game (within reason; I can imagine an edge case, like the inverse of "mud people." But my twitter list doesn't have anything I'd call anywhere near an edge case).

9:13PM

If this goes like St Louis, the Guard will be deployed at suburban shopping malls, while -- LIHOP or MIHOP -- the poor neighborhoods burn. If that does happen, we're looking at a playbook. And then there's this:

9:18PM. Uh oh. Big fire, now, via Periscope (cannot embed). Let me check the location.... East Baltimore, says CBS, at Chester and Gay St, and do note the qualifier:

9:24PM Building "reported to be a newly built senior center" owned by the Baptist Church. Not clear to me why the West Baltimore people are going to go to East Baltimore and burn down a senior center. (Unless there's a depth of strategic planning I'm not aware of, like tying up all the fire engines....)

9:35PM Baltimore's police chief, Anthony Batts, was Oakland's police chief. He was chief when Occupy began, but had resigned -- so far as I can tell, for career reasons -- before Oscar Grant Plaza was cleared. Here is an interesting post on his thinking about incidents like Occupy Oakland, and how to plan for them. This is, as it were, his playbook.

9:47PM One account of the school incident (Faceborg, alas):

A clear narration of what my students and I just saw (and please SHARE this so people know the story): we drove into Mondawmin, knowing it was going to be a mess. I was trying to get them home before anything insane happened. The students were JUST getting out of Douglas, but before that could even happen, the police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, Douglas students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn't catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear marching toward any small social clique of students who looked as if they were just milling about. It looked as if there were hundreds of cops. So, me, personally, if I were a Douglas student that just got trapped in the middle of a minefield BY cops without any way to get home and completely in harm's way, I'd be ready to pop off, too.

9:49PM About "the T word":

Like I said: Not helpful.

9:55PM The 10:00PM curfew approaches:

And:

Yep.

Let's review the steps toward the riot on the night that the Grand Jury decision exonerating Darren Wilson came down. (1) Release of the report inexplicably delayed (2) 'til after nightfall with (3) National Guard not deployed to protect West Florissant Avenue. Personally, I wish the riot hadn't happened, or "Burn this [bitch|motherfucker] down"[2], if that happened, but I wasn't there, and it wasn't my son that was killed, and if you toss a match in gasoline, it ignites, and there's no point blaming the gasoline.

10:07PM Yesterday, the cops attacked the journalists; today, rioters. Implying, to me, that the rioters are far from identical with the protesters. Protesters need coverage, especially streamers.

10:21PM Plenty of vileness. Here's an example:

10:24PM A huge faction on twitter assumes the rioters set the Senior Center fire. So far as I can find out, there's no confirmation of that whatever. This headline -- "Official: Massive East Baltimore building fire linked to riots" -- is deceptive.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating several fires in Baltimore as possible arsons, an ATF spokesman tells ABC News. ATF agents are already actively working fire scenes, including the massive structure fire at the senior center. ATF arson investigators will work to determine if the fires were deliberately set.

The fire would be investigated for arson, riots or no. This headine -- "Huge Fires Burn Downtown Baltimore Buildings Shortly After Riots" -- gets the causal (post hoc) relation exactly. Though it does look like arson:

Residents said the fire, as well as another blaze that engulfed an abandoned warehouse nearby, seemed to start out of nowhere shortly before 9 p.m.

The Sun gets it right too:

The fire's cause is under investigation, and Clark said firefighters hadn't been able to get inside Monday night, much less determine whether it was related to the riots.

CBS:

Mayoral spokesman Kevin Harris says the fire was related to the riots. He said the Mary Harvin Transformation Center was under construction and that no one was believed to be in the building at the time.

Mayor's office losing credibility by the minute; first "thugs"; now this. They couldn't get inside the building!

11:33PM Reports that one of the injured policemen is "unresponsive" are untrue, says BPD.

11:35PM Loretta Lynch, first day on the job:

“I condemn the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace in the city of Baltimore," said Lynch, who was sworn in on Monday.

She added in her statement: "I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence.”

All this would be so much simpler if cops would, say, stop severing people's spines. Just a thought.

11:38PM White House involvement:

Obama spoke earlier with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has struggled to contained protests that turned ugly after the funeral of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of a spinal injury on April 19 while in police custody.

Top presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett also spoke with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the White House said; Hogan later said he spoke with the president as well.

So my question is, who did Obama and Jarrett speak to after Rawlings-Blake and Hogan? DHS (Fusion centers)? FBI (agent provocateurs)? NSA (surveillance)?

11:51PM Activists going to work on how to feed the kids (unlike, one might add, the Mayor of Baltimore, who closed the schools and threw the problem in their laps:

11:54PM Earlier this evening, first pic of military vehicle I have seen:

I'm sure making Baltimore look like a city occupied by an invading army will do wonders.

11:56PM Doubling down on "thugs." So awesome.

11:59PM As Angelos says, the damage in Baltimore has been systematic over many decades.

12:07AM I hereby confess I got turned on to Ta-hesi Coates when I read his wonderful essay about assholes in the Quiet Car; as an introvert, I would. That said:

And:

12:14AM Conors Friedersdorf (from the right):

What's crucial to understand, as Baltimore residents take to the streets in long-simmering frustration, is that their general grievances are valid regardless of how this case plays out. For as in Ferguson, where residents suffered through years of misconduct so egregious that most Americans could scarcely conceive of what was going on, the people of Baltimore are policed by an entity that perpetrates stunning abuses. The difference is that this time we needn't wait for a DOJ report to tell us so. Harrowing evidence has been presented. Yet America hasn't looked.

I include myself.

Despite actively reading and commenting on police misconduct for many years, I was unaware until yesterday that the Baltimore Sun published a searing 2014 article documenting recent abuses that are national scandals in their own rights.

Read the whole thing. Picking one of the more egregious examples: "A month later, a Baltimore police officer plead guilty "to a felony animal cruelty charge after he fatally beat and choked his girlfriend's Jack Russell terrier."

12:25AM Still stuff going on, seems minor. No more huge fires, the Crips and the Bloods did not shoot any cops.

12:29AM Oh, great. Baltimore Police Chief Batts has a history of domestic violence. Granted, that's not the same as strangling a puppy, but the Baltimore PD sounds pretty... Troubled.

12:43AM More on the high school incident that seems to have touched things off:

Yeah, looks like a set-up. I mean, what did they expect?

1:07AM I know this isn't a food riot, but....

Baltimore officials say they have collected $1 million in unpaid water bills from nearly 1,500 customers since beginning a stepped-up effort to clear thousands of past-due bills.

And these are not corporate customers. So that's $666 (!) per account; a lot of money for a poor household. So I would imagine that sucking a million dollars out of a poor community, all in a week, is quite a stressor, especially since I would think many more bills have been sent out than have been collected.

1:10AM Dwelling fires:

1:12AM I have to say this supports my priors on the big fire at the senior home; besides the possibility of a nutcase, real estate interests or insurance fraud. Nice not to be the only one:

Caveat that I've got no independent evidence on this, though the Twitter person is on the ground in Baltimore.

1:18AM FWIW from my armchair 30,000 feet in the air, I feel the same way:

Well, I'm going to bed. I don't have a good feeling about this curfew. It's a trap!

NOTE
[1] Face it, #BlackLivesMatter took off only because of the organic efforts of people, on the ground, in Ferguson; what a tremendous success. I'd welcome links that show the same in Baltimore; I'd love to be wrong on this.

[2] Odd discrepancy!

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Roman Berry's picture
Submitted by Roman Berry on

Appreciate the running updates. Also wanted to say thanks for drawing my attention to the statements of the Orioles' COO on Twitter that were linked combined and transcribed at USA Today. It's been a while since I heard anyone from the ranks of business say anything like that. I hope that sort of sanity is catching on.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

it (it may have been a Democracy Now video--not certain), I'll try to post a video of policemen half carrying/dragging Mr Gray to the police van.

There was a woman walking toward them, yelling about his "broken legs."

Of course, it appears now that Mr Gray's legs were dangling "like spaghetti" because of the spinal cord injuries.

From the written accounts that I've read, both the Police Union President and the Police Chief have tin ears. I can't imagine that we won't see widespread protests over this killing.

I've wondered how the usual suspects of the Black Misleadership have managed to tamp down anger this long--with all the shootings/killings.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

the transcript below.

Democracy Now

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show in Baltimore, where protests over the death of Freddie Gray have entered their fifth day. The 27-year-old African-American man died Sunday from spinal injuries, one week after Baltimore police arrested him. His family and attorney say his voice box was crushed and his spine was, quote, "80 percent severed at his neck." A preliminary autopsy report showed Gray died of a spinal injury.

Video shot by a bystander shows Gray screaming in apparent agony as police drag him to a van.

You can hear a bystander’s voice.

BYSTANDER: His leg looks broke! Look at his f—ing leg! Look at his f—ing leg! That boy’s leg looks broke! His leg’s broken! Y’all dragging him like that!

AMY GOODMAN: Another witness said the police bent Freddie Gray like a pretzel. Gray was then held inside a police van for 30 minutes. Police said, quote, "During transport to Western District via wagon transport the defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma via medic."

The Department of Justice is now investigating Gray’s death for possible civil rights violations. Since 2011, Baltimore has paid roughly $6.3 million to settle police misconduct claims. Baltimore authorities say five of the six officers involved in the arrest of Gray have now given statements to the Baltimore police. One has not. They remain suspended with pay. Baltimore police union attorney Michael Davey told reporters the officers were right to chase Gray after he ran away when a lieutenant "made eye contact" with him. . . .

Here's the link.

"Running While Black": Protests Swell over Death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore Police Custody

Submitted by lambert on

Corrected

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

I'm not a Gandhian; I want to win, and I think that's the best way to get 80% of the population on "our side," without creating the conditions for "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

That's an interesting statement. Gandhi was not against violence. And, in the end, Gandhi won.

Submitted by lambert on

... mostly because I was overloaded, but partly because I couldn't bear to; I feared a second night with much worse violence.

But in fact my fears were overblown. In the same way that the outburst in Ferguson didn't derail #BlackLivesMatter, this one did not either.