The ongoing riots in Baltimore escalated rather quickly after Freddie Gray’s funeral today. Between all the property destruction and event cancellations, it’s easy to focus on the hear-and-now of what the 24-hour news outlets are broadcasting. That is, most of the focus is on the rioting and the looting, while what happened to Gray falls to the sidelines.
The Wire creator and writer David Simon knows Baltimore’s convoluted history of police brutality and racial tension all too well. That’s probably why he felt it necessary to address the riots on his website. First, he made sure to remind everyone about why everything seemed to be going to sh*t:
Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed. And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city. Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard. All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets.
Despite the obvious pain, however, Simon quickly points out just how damaging the escalating violence can be — not only in the literal sense, but in how it complicates what happened to Gray:
But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease. There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today. But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death.
Simon concluded by pleading with the Baltimore rioters, asking them to go home:
If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please.
If the 100 comments (since this post’s writing) on Simon’s blog post are any indication, his words by no means provide any sense of finality to what’s happening in Baltimore. They do, however, help give the situation at least some sense of clarity.
Then again, none of the rioters on our television screens are bothering too much with the bloggers writing about them. They’re too busy being pissed off about the whole thing.
(Via David Simon)