The Battle for Baltimore... The Battle for Equality...
by Brandon Kolby Jacobs

The Baltimore riot of 1861 (also called the Pratt Street Riot and the Pratt Street Massacre) was a conflict on April 19, 1861, in Baltimore, Maryland, between anti-War Democrats (the largest party in Maryland), as well as Confederate sympathizers, and members of the Massachusetts militia en route to Washington for Federal service. It produced the first deaths by hostile action in the American Civil War.

Now before every goes into thinking that this is a piece attempting to lay claim that the events going on in Baltimore are some sort of conspiracy, I assure you that isn't that. I just started doing my research and the riots of 1861 are one of the first things that came up, so it's something to think about and let marinate. So I'm sure you've had thousands of posts on this subject and I'm sure there have been some that are far more thought provoking than this one, but I had some things on my mind after following the Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, watching the hashtags take over social media and getting to watch things from the sides of the protesters, the folks trying to ride the violence out and the police. But before we go there, let's talk about what this particular incident was about and then lets talk about what actually starts the rioting...

By all accounts being reported, Freddie Gray was a likable person who had a very laid back personality... but even in the midst of him being the communities baby and his very tragic passing (no one is attempting to make light of the wrong in that, but follow me here) he did have a history of drug offense charges. Now does that give them the right to break your spine in eight places? I think most reasonable people would say no. But, the judgment to harass does come from some place and we as the black community have to, just as much as we want to acknowledge the wrong of police brutality, acknowledge that we do play some sort of role in how we're perceived by those who are probably already abusing their power... DON'T GET SIDE TRACKED BY MY STATEMENTS ABOVE. I'm building here, so stay with me....

And so the timeline plays out as follows:

Sunday, April 12

8:39 a.m.: Police said officers were working in a West Baltimore area with a history of violence and drug deals, and a man, later identified as Gray, was seen at the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street.

The officers approached the man, who then fled on foot, but the reason for the approach remains a part of the ongoing police investigation, police said.

8:40 a.m.: A police officer was heard telling dispatch that officers had one person at 1700 Presbury Street, two blocks south of North and Mount, police said.

8:42 a.m.: A “wagon,” or van, was requested for transport, according to Baltimore police, and that Gray asked for an inhaler.

8:46 a.m.: The driver of the van believes Gray is acting “irate,” police say. An officer asks the van to stop so the paperwork can be completed, according to Baltimore police. At this point, Gray is taken out of the vehicle, placed in leg irons and then put back in the van, police said.

8:54 a.m.: The vehicle cleared Mount Street, heading toward central booking, police said.

8:59 a.m.: A request was made by the driver of the van for an additional "unit" to check on Gray, police say. There was some undisclosed communication with Gray at this point.

9:23 a.m.: Emergency medical services directed a technician to respond for an injured patient, as heard on a recording of the call that was publicly released.

9:24 a.m.: Police officers requested paramedics to the Western District to transport the man to an area hospital. In a subsequent charging document, police said, “During transport to Western District via wagon transport the Defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma." 

9:37 a.m.: On-scene medical responders said Gray was not breathing, according to EMS reports.

Thursday, April 16

Gray was said to be in a coma by his attorney.

Sunday, April 19

7:00 a.m.: Gray died. A vigil has been scheduled for this evening and the six officers involved have all been placed on paid leave.

So then we protested on April 23...
But then misguided anger brought out the inner nigga and then...

Now rather than telling you that rioting is wrong, let me explain it in a different way. What made the protesting, rioting, etc. of the Civil Rights era effective in most instances is a couple of things:

1. A legitimate agenda, with real demands and people committed to dying (and not just destruction) for the cause that they were set out to protest/fight/riot against.

2. There was no spin media that could present the negative overtones in massive amounts like there are now (thanks CNN, NBC, Fox, and ABC... way to keep it "fair and balanced").

3. There were leaders whose agenda was the agenda of the people, rather than the agenda of their organization (or at the very least they presented themselves as such). For as much "good" as some of the African American based organizations may do, they often times are scurrying about with the Ray J, "I Hit It First" mentality.

So back to the riots in Baltimore...

The riots are as much about a plea for a resolution to police brutality and equality across races, as it is about people who see a great opportunity to raid the local corner store and stock up on rims from the pawn shop that's being broken into. But if we want to bring about a resolution about these social issues, we (meaning everyone in the urban communities affected by racial profiling and unjust discrimination) have to do a few things:

1. We have to stop using the same stereotypes that even we are off put by, as justification to rationalize what we view to be wrong. Even we don't trust a nigga with his pants hanging off his ass (we talk about it on black twitter), so we can't keep crying discrimination when even we don't trust those people. Sure Lil Trey-Trey with the dreads, face tattoos is someone we went to high school with, but I think it's safe to say if we're managing a company, pumping our gas at 2AM at a not so well lit station, etc that we're not going to be slightly unnerved if we're honest about how even we perceive those things.  

2. We have to stop (at least to some degree) the self infliction and then want to cry mistreatment. We're not operating as a village in the child rearing process, we're all (not some because I get the need for some to do it) recording violence against our community members, but no one is willing to jump in to stop it. Would Freddie Gray have happened if he had been pushed toward the local community college or if years prior someone took an interest in him and put him in athletics? We can't ignore the fact that he ran from the police.... NO ONE IS SAYING HE DESERVED TO DIE, but we have to acknowledge as a community where we are failing our young people and be willing to stop justifying the wrongs and then attempting to argue them with "Well, the white people get off scott free!"... we know it's not fair YET, so we have to play defense while we're at a clear disadvantage. When MLK broke a law and went to jail he said, "I acknowledge this was a law I violated, however I find this law to be unjust." He never once sold dope and then blamed the white man for oppressing him and them being the reason he broke the law... gotta stop with the foolishness folks  

3. We have to decide if we're willing to lose for the lack equality we complain about on social media. In the words of the Infamous Mobb Deep, "There's no such thing as half way crooks!" We have to be willing to lose jobs, lose money, lose freedom and lose our lives... ALL OF US in order for the agenda to be pushed forward... knowing that you may push for change and not see it in your life time, but you believe in the ideal so much that you know a change will come if we press forward. So, are you willing to lose that 3br/2ba house with the white picket fence for an ideal? Is true freedom worth you're $60,000/yr and that nice Toyota Avalon that you worked so hard to obtain?

All this being said, let me just emphasize that I'm not supporting the police brutality, I'm just as angry as the rest of you. But I'm also not going to destroy everything then turn around ask the city government to fix it all just to go back to work and in six months forget Freddie Gray's name and be dealing with the same issues... it's time to take a stand, but if we're going to, it has to be real. It has to be organized and it has to have an end game. You can't riot for the sake of rioting. If you're going to riot you pick the places with an agenda behind doing so otherwise you are exactly how they perceive you... a bunch of out of control niggas. 

I love you all, keep your heads about you, protect each other and remember, the world is watching... let them tell stories of you that you'd want to live throughout the ages... 

And it's with all that, I leave you with this until next time... time to choose what we want to be...


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