Scarlet Letter Activism - Baltimore
Organized by: Jolie Mahan
The mainstream media is portraying the protests in Baltimore, MD as a scene of almost apocalyptic proportions. It looks like chaos, like total disorder, requiring the use of the National Guard to keep people in line. They leave out the photos of riot cops busting car windows. They've conveniently forgotten the thousands of people there peacefully protesting, or that a lot of the violence was done by drunk sports fans who were upset that the Orioles game was postponed.
Where did the discussion about Freddie Gray go, other than the talk about his arrest record? Which, unless you believe that an untried execution, a death penalty, is appropriate justice for drug possession charges, simple assault and unarmed robbery, his rap isn't very relevant. Where is the talk about "rough riding," a police tactic where uncooperative suspects are handcuffed and recklessly driven around, unrestrained, in the back of a police van so that rogue cops can indirectly torture someone and get literal "street justice" with no witnesses? Why are people unaware that the Baltimore police department has paid millions in settlements towards this problem already? In 2012, Christine Abbott sued police after being badly injured on a nickle ride, and in the same year, Anthony Anderson also died from his injuries in the back of a van and was eventually ruled a homicide.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his speech, The Other America, "Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."
I don't like to see looting and violence, but I'd much rather not see hundreds of unarmed citizens being gunned down and shook around. I want to stop seeing non-violent drug traffickers and theives rot in the prison industrial complex. I want to stop seeing underprivileged youth get funneled into our jails through the school to prison pipeline. Now more than ever, Baltimore needs our support. We need to show them that we know why they're hurting. Every unjust death sends ripples of unrest through our communities, and now that we're all connected on social media, we feel it everywhere. Eric Garner, Taryvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray. They're real to us, too. They're not criminals that should've complied, shouldn't have run, or who should have been somewhere else entirely. They were real people, sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, that were used to running in this society because of the color of their skin.
Racism in America is a real problem. It isn't over. It's systemic, passed down from generations, through policies, practices and legislation that was around when people could own other people. Segregation only ended 50 years ago with the Civil Rights Act. Is it really that unlikely to think that maybe the government found another way to keep our schools segregated without legislation, but with economic warfare and a corrupt public school system instead? 70 years ago our government incarcerated between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, 62% of whom were American citizens, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This tragedy didn't have reparations until 1988 when Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act that granted each camp survivor $20,000, admitting the unlawful imprisonment of these people was based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
Every city in America needs our help. I hope to connect local farmers to the people in need so that we can help the hungry and impoverished without feeding the corporate interests. These same corporations feed us processed, artificial food loaded with fillers like corn, wheat, soy and sugar for an enormous profit and sell their products in super retailers that underpay and mistreat their employees. If we want there to be a focus on local agriculture, we need to make it an option for the people that need it most.
I'm hoping to contact central PA farmers and ask them to donate any produce, no matter how small, or to offer discounted rates for the food going to Baltimore outreaches and deliver it myself. I want to help provide for those that are struggling and the people traveling to Baltimore to aid those in need. I hope to inspire surrounding communities to do similar food drives and that we will be able to offer support on a national level without government assistance. Any donations are appreciated, please share this link!