After the riots of last week, Baltimore appears to settling down to an uneasy peace. There’s a curfew in effect for the month, but no one appears to be burning anything. I didn’t go out of my way to follow the news concerning the events, so what I knew is what I heard on the radio. And what I knew was that Baltimore PD had arrested a Black man, transported him, and he died in custody. After his funeral, Baltimore burned. A little research reveals that:
- Police arrested Freddie Gray (a man whose rap sheet includes some 20 arrests) after he ran from officers who made ‘eye contact‘ with him. He was arrested for possession of a switchblade, and placed in a police transport van. He may or may not have been beaten by police. Cause of death was a spinal injury at the neck.
- Mr. Gray’s funeral on 25 April led to rioting and assaults on police officers. Gangs actively prevented firefighters from doing their job. There were numerous reports of people attacked by rioters, and the National Guard was called in.
Based on the information I have, my observations are:
- Police officers, especially in light of events the past year, aren’t likely to start randomly beating someone, especially a Black someone. While Mr. Gray’s injuries aren’t consistent with a peaceful arrest, I think it likely that if he’d complied with police, he’d be alive today. He’d certainly been in the system enough to know how the process worked.
- Baltimore leadership is incompetent, duplicitous, or both. During the riots, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made statements to the effect that the rioters should be allowed to riot. Really? If your city is being destroyed, that’s not the time for appeasement (actually, no time is).
- Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby is ignorant or naive. Her husband is Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby. When questioned about a possible conflict of interest in her handling of the criminal investigation involving the Baltimore PD, she stated that there was no conflict, as her husband made the law, and she enforced it. When those two functions are sharing a bed, that’s the definition of conflict of interest. She also said that murder charges would be preferred against the arresting officers. That action was a bald-faced political appeasement to the rioters, as murder requires proof of intent. The actual charges filed are significantly reduced from murder. She also said that running from police wasn’t probable cause. Um, yes, it is. The police hadn’t even approached Freddie Gray, and he took off. A reasonable person would conclude that if you run from police just because they notice you, you’re probably doing something you shouldn’t be. As for the reason for arrest, Ms. Mosby said that the knife in Mr. Gray’s possession wasn’t a switchblade, but most people would agree that a ‘spring-assisted knife’ is, in fact, a switchblade.
The rioters also learned some things the past week:
- You don’t have to obey the law. Get enough people together, and you can do whatever the hell you want. The Mayor will stand aside.
- Police have no authority. See an officer? Run. Because running isn’t ‘probable cause’. And whatever the police do, they won’t be supported by leadership. I don’t know why anybody would want to be a police officer in Baltimore.
I’m not familiar with Baltimore: driven through it a few times and transferred at the airport, so I don’t know what the city is like. But I think it’s reasonable to assume that the city is in for a tough ride. All those businesses burned aren’t likely to come back, and convention and tourist dollars are going to dry up. Who wants to schedule an event or put a business in a place where city government won’t protect them?
The rioters may think they’ve ‘won’, but they’ve lost big time. Urban activists lament the lack of businesses in poorer parts of cities, but I’d just send them a looped tape of the Baltimore riots and ask “Any questions?”
WHL Conference Finals
Our local WHL team Portland Winterhawks have had their usual good season, and have made it to the Western Conference Finals. They were ousted in this series last year, but Game 6 is Sunday afternoon, and I have tickets. They’re playing the Kelowna Rockets, and the series has been back and forth between two evenly matched teams. Kelowna goalie Jackson Whistle has been absolutely superb. Sunday’s game is a must-win for the Winterhawks, as they have to even the series and force a Game 7 to continue. I’m looking forward to it.
What I don’t appreciate is the fees Ticketmaster charges for the ‘service’ of buying tickets. I bought a seat in the 200 level, as hockey rewards an overview of the rink so you can see defensive sets and line changes. There were seats closer to the ice, but I like the overview upper-level seats afford. I’ve sat rink-side at hockey games, and while exciting, it’s hard to appreciate the total game that close. My beef is that the service charges were fully one-third of the total cost. Not even airlines are so mercenary.