Protests and Respectability Politics: Why It's About Time We Let Baltimore Speak
Due to the recent media coverage of protests aimed at the unjust killing and mishandling of Black bodies by law enforcement, people nationwide have begun to weigh in on whether these protests, often called riots, are justified. With the murder of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson PD last August, Missouri natives took to the streets in protest of the unlawful murder of Brown. As tension built between the citizens and the police, SWAT teams and other military grade officers were called in to “control the riots.” Months later, Baltimore finds itself in a similar standoff as police and Baltimore citizens both relentlessly demand their own definition of justice following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.
These and many other protests of late have caused division on a nationwide scale and more noticeably within the Black community as people weigh in on the efficacy, purpose and justification of the “Baltimore riots.” Some argue that the protests are pointless and that citizens are destroying their own cities in a way that doesn’t help the movement and only hurts themselves. Others argue that Baltimore has a right to hurt and to express that however they see fit given that this maltreatment at the hands of police officers has been ongoing.
Regardless of your point of view, I think we can all agree that the community in Baltimore itself is at the center of what’s happening in the city, and too often we heed and internalize critique and sometimes even judgement from people that cannot identify with the people affected. Whether that be due to not living in an inner-city neighborhood before, never being followed by police just for walking home or just not being Black, it’s time we let those who are feeling the death of Freddie Gray most personally raise their voices. It’s easy to have an opinion or a “right answer” to a problem you only have to experience on paper, but it’s different when that’s your everyday.
Hot 97’s morning show “Ebro in the Morning” interviewed Baltimore protesters and natives on their opinions on the death of Freddie Gray. In this interview they clear up media misconceptions, explain why it might be more of a class issue and what the indictment could mean for Baltimore from the point of view from a native.
Check it out below:
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