This April marks the fifth anniversary of the Baltimore Uprising of 2015. Thousands took to the streets to protest the murder in police custody of Freddie Gray. Cops murdering African-American Baltimoreans was nothing new. But this was eight months after the Ferguson Uprising against the police murder of Michael Brown and in the middle of the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement. People in Baltimore rose up in rage.
Baltimore cops harass, abuse, and even murder young black men on a regular basis. Why the mass action this time? Maybe because of the protests across the country against similar murders. Maybe because Gray was shackled and given a “rough ride” in the back of a police van without being safety-buckled, which caused the horrific injuries that led to his death. Maybe because the authorities shut down all public transportation near Frederick Douglas High School and replaced it with a formation of cops threatening students as they left school and couldn’t get home.
And maybe because of the daily abuse and violence by cops, the bad physical conditions of schools and housing, the lack of inexpensive healthy food in “food desert” neighborhoods where chain supermarkets refuse to locate, the absence of quality affordable health care, the lack of decent-paying jobs, and the pervasiveness of racism in people’s lives in so many other ways.
It all adds up to mass misery based on poverty and racism in the richest country in the history of the world. What could be more reasonable than for people to fight back?
As Langston Hughes wrote, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun?… Or does it explode?