Fighting fire with fire: Baltimore riots

Kelly Wynne, Features Editor

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Throughout the day and night of April 27, Baltimore rioters and protesters took to the streets in response to the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who died of a spinal injury while in police custody.

Over the course of the night I was bombarded with live updates on Twitter. Notifications quickly touched on live events before jumping to the next shock. The governor declared a state of emergency. Firefighters battled a “massive building fire.” Hundreds of National Guard members took to the scene along with police from all over the state of Maryland.

The year 2015 has been a fire starter for police brutality issues, starting back with Ferguson. Peace seems to be long gone, or at least overshadowed by acts of irrational violence. The Baltimore protest itself was advertised to high school students as “the purge,” which I think speaks for itself.

Inequality is not an issue that has gone unnoticed. In no way do I mean to denounce this issue. I stand behind racial equality wholeheartedly. It may seem that little progress has been made in this ongoing conversation, but the outbreaks on the eve of April 27 have made a progressive fight seem embarrassing.

Burning down your city is not the way to make a statement. Stealing what you can carry and pelting police officers with bricks isn’t going to move any issue forward. There have been a handful of police that have committed inexcusable offenses but taking this out on not only innocent officers, but citizens and resources in your own community, does not enhance your argument in any way.

Believe it or not, Baltimore is filled with peaceful protesters pushing their drive for equality forward. A handful have stepped onto national television explaining their point of view and begging their neighbors to take a step back and channel peace. Rioters have overshadowed these efforts with immense amounts of immature violence.

By 9 p.m, CNN’s broadcast detailed that the fire had spread. Police expanded to all streets in Baltimore. Citywide curfews could not be implemented until the next night, April 28, as the mayor says citizens need prior notice. A church had been burned down, and the pastor spoke with tears in his eyes. A video from a few hours prior was replayed, in which a teenage girl wearing leopard print pants threw a brick at a cop and walked away with a swift dance move. No, I’m not joking.

It seems this violence is driven by those whose rage has overshadowed their logic. There appears to be no conscious reminder this is not effecting change.

Because of these events an entire city will be in shambles. People will be injured, some may even be dead. Homes will be burned to the ground, and to think the igniting issue was tagged by unjust dehumanization.

There is a peaceful way to go about taking a stand. There is a way to demand your voice be heard without literally burning your city to the ground. It is these points I hope Americans, especially citizens of Baltimore, remember as the fight for equality accelerates. Together, we can make a difference in peaceful strides, building a new platform instead of tearing down progress.

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