Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I see the aftermath of Baltimore violence on the ground today; small protests in DC this evening

Today, I took a “day trip” on the MARC train to Baltimore and visited the Sandtown-Winchester area of Baltimore, including the intersection of North and Penn, where the CVS store was burned by rioters.

It was about a mile walk from Penn Station.  I had already seen some of West Baltimore from the upper level of the Marc Train, which has a local stop in the area. I walked along North Ave (Rt 1).  I stopped for coffee in a McDonalds and was the only white person there.  As I walked, I noticed nothing for a while, except for one high rise apartment with a "Black Lives Matter" sign in the window.

After I walked into the Sandtown neighborhood, I quickly encountered run-down and abandoned row houses and stores, as well as bars and even stage theaters and art exhibits.  

I walked along Presstman until I got to Pennsylvania Ave.  I walked north, and talked to one African-American male, who affirmed that most of the blight had been there before the riots, and that few young men seemed to have jobs.  I got to the intersection, where there was a Billy Graham representative preaching, and various other voices, and many media outlets.  There were some white people, working as reporters or interns from news organizations, and a few young white men who probably came from the LGBT community.  There was also an older white man wearing Washington Nationals baseball cap and shirt wanting to volunteer with the cleanup.  (That makes the Nats look good.)  It was very orderly.  The transit station, which would have taken one to the Mondawmin Mall in about a mile going north, was closed.
There was a large peaceful demonstration in Baltimore at Penn Station just after I left.
The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox in a game played before an intentionally empty stadium (although people watched the game in bars). The Orioles will be the “home team” against Tampa Bay and bat last as the weekend games are moved to Florida for security.

There has been controversy in the media about calling the rioters "thugs". 

This evening, there was a small demonstration in Washington DC, which I reached near the White House.  Some of the signs were very interesting, saying that white silence actually amounts to aggression.  The group (which had started in Chinatown) went up 16th Street, and then to the U Street Corridor, around 14th St. 

There was also a substantial demonstration in New York City, at Union Square, a few blocks north of where I lived in the 1970s (in the Cast Iron Building). 

Update:  May 5

Former Baltimore deputy state's attorney Page Croyder makes a strong case critical of Mariyln Mosby's quick action to indict six police officers, here.  There are legitimate and factually unresolved questions as to whether Freddie Gray's knife was in violation of Maryland law. The knife may have been in violation of a Baltimore ordinance without violating state law. 

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