Five feminists lead Baltimore and Baltimore is leading the country in turning the institution of racism and classism on low income and minority youth into the light of day making evident how change must happen. Black Lives Matter founders, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cultors and Opal Tometi make clear the intersection of conditions that support racial disparity and assault and killing of young black men. Created in 2012, Black Lives Matter was a response to Trayvon Martin‘s verdict. Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Black Lives Matter has created the ability for an immediate response to racial inequity by outright denigration, assault and killing of young black men.
When the community of Baltimore came together on the streets after the killing Freddie Gray, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, held her ground and was rewarded by the community turning from the anger and frustration of the thousands of youth protesting. AFter Monday night’s violence (4/28/15) she worked as did the pastors and the leaders of the community to steer the protests away from destructive acts to keeping the focus on justice for Freddie Gray. The community responded Wednesday coming together and changing the tone and the direction of the protest. Friday 5/1/15) Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn J Mosby brought charges against six officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray. By this action, notice nationwide is given that police can and will be held accountable for false arrest, harassment and injury or death to citizens.
These five women, feminists seeking equality and social justice before the law have turned the community around to work positively toward bettering Baltimore. In that respect, Baltimore leads the nation in changing the course of history from racial and class disparity to the potential for a fair and just treatment by police, and an address to the condition of poverty and lack of opportunity that has been the great divider and taken the hope of communities of color left behind.
By their actions, these five women have elevated the consciousness of our country and give us the doorway to holding accountable police and institutions that have looked the other way in the face of the death of young black men. By the response from the communities of Baltimore, who identified and acted on improving the conditions that have led the impoverishment of a generation of segments of society. Education and jobs are the means by which young black men can gain jobs, and jobs need to be there for the youth coming up in their communities. This truly is a gift to mothers who live every day with the concern for their sons, with the fear that they will be killed on the streets. It truly represents a new day for mothers across the country, a new day for black youth, and a great starting point for moving forward with the unfinished work of civil rights .
POSTED: April 29, 2015 Daily Kos, Examiner.com Peggy Reskin
The true Baltimore story was an all day event yesterday. Because I was wedded to my sofa, and unable to work due to an injury so couldn’t even be at the computer, I watched all day as Baltimore took hold of its community. Early the parents and children came out and there was the sense of tragedy and disappointment, as they began to clean the litter and markings of the last night of riot in the streets. The leaders of the community were the pastors as they brought together the people of Baltimore into the churches to hear their pain at the loss of the CVS they worked hard to get in their neighborhood, and the pointless destruction the frustrated youth had administered ultimately hurting themselves and not gaining justice for Freddie Gray. The pastors and the leaders were not tolerant of the destruction but pointed out the poverty in the area had young people coming up with nowhere to go, no hope for any future and the pain of the disregard and destruction of young men “once cuffed” by the police for crimes that were never clearly represented. Freddie Gray, after all, a healthy 25 year old encountered six policeman on his bike and was thrown into the police van because he couldn’t walk because his spine had been broken at his neck. He died a week later, but never regained consciousness after being thrown in the van minus a seat belt or any medical aid. Another time, another son, another mother grief stricken and a community reminded of its powerless position in holding police accountable. In fact, as of today, no report or accounting has been made. But this day in Baltimore, the pastors and fathers and leaders of the communities, as well as gang leaders, collaborated with the intention of Baltimore-the city, the community, the people coming through this demonstration and getting to hold the authorities accountable for the life of Freddie Gray.
The churches and restaurants open fed the children who were in the area because the schools had been cancelled. The crowd grew and many were interviewed by the cable news. Cable news, at least MS-NBC most frequently did not add fuel to the flame but asked questions that were in accordance with the messages given over and over again. We are here because Baltimore is in trouble; we need jobs; we need better places for our children to be with youth centers long gone. We need people to care that we’re here. We love Baltimore was often said by many, many who spoke to the cable news.
The parents were torn, they wanted their children safe-they wanted the young men to to be another young black men left in the streets. Very pointedly, the cameras picked up on the mother who saw her son throwing a rock and she went after him as only a mother would, grabbing at his coat, screaming at him “Don’t you understand you could be killed by the police by throwing an object at them?” The cable news people thought that was the sign of a good mother. I thought it was the sign of just how terrified mothers must be to have their sons out at night ever. She explained herself, and it was like she was saying-the reality is my son could get killed and I want him away from this world.”
The afternoon came and in one corner of the screen, young girls and boys in jeans with pom poms began to do their cheering performance. Big kettle drums appears near there and the whole mood shifted from dire and gloom to a reminder of the degrees between the stand these young people took for bringing their spirit of hope to the streets as the number of police lining up increased. There was a picture circulating on the internet from that time period. A solid line of police with their plastic barriers up, their helmets down as far as you could see across the street and a young girl or boy, couldn’t tell which, about four feet 10 inches tall- with 4/5 bottles of spring water, holding one up to one of the officers. That was the spirit in the afternoon. A group of young men, maybe 50-60, came through proudly raising their arms not so much in anger or defiance, but proud to be where they were saying to the world – no more.
The tone began to shift and there were more people talking about honoring themselves- the very people who lived on those streets in those blocks by not participating in violence. The men who spoke spoke of how important it would be to instead show these youths how to bring about change. Some of these men had been in the demonstration in Baltimore in 1968 when Martin Luther King was killed and the streets were full of rage. The lessons of Ferguson were certainly brought up: get your vote counted, get people into office who represent the community’s needs. Follow the direction Ferguson has taken. Even so, the pressure was building and the numbers of protesters, demonstrators and families, people was filling up the screen. As well, the number of police in their armor, as well as cable news showing the national guard in their military uniforms on the ready further back from view. A report of several thousand extra police from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and national guard soldiers were ready if as the governor had said earlier in the day, there was a repeat of the violence of the night before.
Most everyone spoke of the fact that those who had been responsible for the violence the night before did not represent the community, the people of Baltimore but were lost, capable of criminal activity and it was the crowd itself that monitored the acts of the protesters and demonstrators. There was the report that a water bottle was thrown at the police, and one of the men standing in union with others facing the crowd directly in front of the police, picked up the bottle and took the offender off to address this misdeed. These men were the buffers to the police and there to protect the community from a few people in the crowd who had a different agenda.
Then it was 20 minutes till curfew, then 10, then 4 and what was remarkable was how agitated and anxious the cable news journalist were. Who could blame them, it was very uncertain what was going to happen. The long line of police moved forward just inches as the announcements came from the bull horns: Curfew is in effect and 4 minutes. Everyone needs to clear the street.
I didn’t hear but it was reported that the Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s voice was heard over the speaker saying she was proud of Baltimore and that she trusted that the people would do the right thing. That Freddie Gray was not forgotten, and justice for him was the agenda, not violence to the community.” Throughout the day, she had stood firm with resolve and intention for the people to succeed.
A scuffle happened when a canister of tear gas caught a small fire by a doorway. Then there was something that was pepper gas in the mix, and the cable people closed down their positions and left their spots. The next thing to see was that all the people had gone except for it was reported 10, who ultimately also left the street.
Everybody won. The people who left the streets have the promise from the pastors and their mayor that Freddie Gray’s death will be accounted for, that what is needed for the people is an entry into an economy that supports their lives. The veil that has been lifted showing us the places and the people left behind by the concept we hear of income inequality is real. The people who live in these places are represented by a significant margin in African American and Latino neighborhoods. The fathers and mothers who are trying to survive need help in having the young people having reason to believe their lives can be better, they can find jobs, they can have a life.
Baltimore won, and so did the country in this day. The people, the pastors, the community leaders, the gang leaders, the mayor and the police and those who made the decisions to let the people succeed in the curfew made a remarkable passage available to all of the people of Baltimore.