Maryland’s tryst again with disgusting past history.
By Raif Karerat
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: As pockets of Baltimore continue to smolder and the cleanup effort begins, America is seeing a side of Maryland that has not boiled to the surface since 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated.
And while images of recalcitrant destruction and wanton looting have dominated the news streams emanating from Maryland, there seems to be minimal coverage pertaining to the few beacons of hope that shone brightly amidst the darkness on Monday.
As Gov. Hogan was declaring a State of Emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard, hundreds of clergymen were linking arms and taking to the streets in an effort to restore some semblance of peace to the neighborhoods they call home. In the face of the chaos that had descended upon Baltimore, they stood tall, unified in their resolute message of peace and civility.
Despite the clear and present danger of the environment around them, these men and women were steadfast in their efforts to help mend the old wounds that had reopened in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death.
“These are the church leaders who are putting themselves in harm’s way to end the violence,” WBAL reporter Deborah Weiner said of the remarkable scene. “They are linked arm-in-arm … one gentleman is in front in a wheelchair,” she continued.
Weiner stated on-air that she asked the clergymen what they thought of the State of Emergency declared by the governor. “They said there has been a State of Emergency way before tonight in Baltimore City, an emergency in poverty, lack of jobs [and] disenfranchisement from the political process,” she reported.
Even gang members from the infamous Bloods and Crips stood side by side with the city’s clergy and called for an end to the senseless anarchy, despite seemingly unfounded allegations that there was a coalition formed between the gangs to “take down” Baltimore City police officers.
“All that about the police getting hurt — about certain gangs — that’s false,” stated Charles Shelley, a member of the Crips, while standing arm in arm with a member of the Bloods. “We’re here to protect our community and that’s it … we’re doing this because we don’t want trouble,” he reiterated multiple times in a video posted by the Baltimore Sun.
Elsewhere in West Baltimore, WJZ aired footage of Nation of Islam members assembling to provide a line of protection for firefighters and police who were responding to a massive fire that threatened to engulf an entire block while frenzied looters hurled bricks with enough force to crack the riot shields of several officers.
It should be apparent that the previously peaceful protests were the product of a deeply rooted racial disparity that has made Baltimore a highly concentrated microcosm for the issues affecting the nation at large. The American consciousness needs to realize that leading up to Monday’s capitulation to chaos, there were only isolated incidents of lawlessness perpetrated by a mere fraction of the thousands who assembled.
As Baltimore burns, it is difficult to fathom anything that could be more poignant than the pivotal distinction between selfless activism and selfish hooliganism.