Battlefield: Baltimore - looking past the violence
When one person throws a rock, everyone must then throw a rock. That is the mentality of much of the youth participating in the rioting that began Monday night after the funeral of a black man who inexplicably died under police custody.
Unfortunately, the impulsive violence--which protestors say is for Freddie Gray, the man who died--actually raises confusion as to what people are protesting for. Some will say that movements like #blacklivesmatter are the motives for these riots while others will claim police brutality as their primary reason. But if people decide to turn their cities into a war zone every time they watch the latest video on social media, the cause they proudly claim to be fighting for is worth about as much as the ashes of the cars and buildings they incinerate.
Here lies the problem. The videos that have garnered national attention primarily show members of the younger population, many of which are teenagers, wreaking havoc on parts of the city that have absolutely nothing to do with the issue. This recklessness points to a lack of direction and organization, which can then point to a lack of education on the cause they are decimating their city for.
If the entire point of this "necessary evil" is to change the authoritative system that Americans have lived with for so long, then people need to reassess their actions because they could not be further from progress. However, if people are so confident that tearing down cities that, while not perfect, have had a lot of work put into them by the communities living in them will bring change the system, then I pose the questions: What progress has been made? What great change has come? How many more people (not officers but bystanders) have to be beaten, trampled on, and have their stores looted?
I cringed when I saw a post on Facebook that stated "Until #blacklives matter, all lives won't matter..." This is the example being set for children who will undoubtedly have their own reasons to protest later in their lives; "if someone punches you in the face, go ahead and hurt everyone around you until that person stops" is what is being told to them. This is evident in the teenagers committing highly immature acts of today. Perhaps this was the example set for them while they were growing up and they are doing an excellent job making sure that, ironically, nothing changes.
Photos of kids highjacking a UPS truck and even, far more bizarrely, driving around in a "Thomas the Train" model, and most disturbingly, a video of a man being knocked unconscious outside of a liquor store only to be stomped on by pedestrians standing outside, show that these kids care more for an adrenaline rush than they do about any kind of change. They may speak about why they are doing it but will not take time to educate themselves on how they can truly make a difference.
The only hope that can be derived from all of these videos is one of a mother disciplining (that's and understatement) her child for throwing rocks at the police.
Does that mean that this woman does not understand? That she's a sellout? That she didn't live through the same struggle? Of course not. It means she likely has the integrity to understand that she does not want to sink to a level of violence that these corrupt officers have exhibited. It means she knows that protesting a system taking innocent lives and then proceeding with action that helps dig her own community digger into a trench than it already is, is as idiotic as the idea of a police force neglecting to acknowledge what happened to a man who mysteriously died in their custody.
The police in Baltimore did something wrong. Every video capturing the abuse of power by police will help make a change. But it cannot happen overnight and it surely cannot happen with a bunch of violence-happy individuals thinking they can be game changers by burning the world down, while the corrupt officials sit at home and watch these rioters do the job for them.
Hopefully, with Baltimore icons like Ray Lewis standing against the violence, the city will regain its composure and end what has already been an upsetting couple of days. Like Lewis so passionately tweeted: "Baltimore this isn't the answer!!!"