Once more with feeling: Violence didn’t start with Freddie Gray’s funeral

It started with Freddie Gray’s death while in the custody of the Baltimore police department. A meditation by Rebecca Traister, at The New Republic, which includes this:

Violence broke out and erupted not when students threw stones at police, but when Freddie Gray suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody, and, eventually, died.

But somehow the original act in this story—the killing of a man—has been detached from what happened in its aftermath, even at the same time that the two events are inextricably linked. In The International Business Times’s account: “The violence broke out just a few blocks from the funeral of the 25-year-old Freddie Gray. … Trouble then spread through parts of the city. … [H]undreds of police moved into glass-strewn streets where the worst of the violence had taken place and used pepper spray on rioters who had sacked convenience stores.” In this formulation, the “worst of the violence” was apparently the sacking of convenience stores and the resulting glass-strewn streets, not the use of pepper spray or the death of a young man.


Published by datingjesus

Just another one of God's children.

Join the Conversation


  1. The “violence” actually began much earlier than that.

    Shaun La describes growing up in 1990s “Black Baltimore” here.

    The Baltimore Sun provides some detail on the “Undue Force” employed by Baltimore police that has cost the city almost $6 million dollars in settlements since 2011 here.

    Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson. Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.

    I’m reminded of something Colin Gordon wrote about The Making of Ferguson:“The surprise in Ferguson is not what happened, but why it does not happen more often.”

    The violence that became a part of the Freddie Gray protest was a direct result of city officials and law enforcement, from day one, employing tactics meant to antagonize and escalate an already volatile situation in order to characterize everyone involvedm through the media, as “criminals and thugs.”

  2. A touch of history from Colin Gordon:
    Border City Blues

    None of this explains the death of Michael Brown or Freddie Gray. But it does help explain why those deaths meant so much to the citizens of Ferguson and Baltimore, and provoked such dramatic responses.

    I just emailed this to Geraldo. Like he cares. But it made me feel better. Maybe I’ll send one to Obama.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: