NO to the Guilty Verdict in the Baltimore Squeegee Case!

Image source: Ian T. McFarland via Flickr. (Representative image.)

The trial over the shooting of a motorist by a teenage squeegee worker in Baltimore has come to an end. A year after the shooting the jury reached the verdict that the teenager, tried as an adult, was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the use of a firearm in a crime, and being a minor in possession of a firearm.

The judge now must decide whether this teenager, who was 14 years old at the time of the shooting, should be sentenced as an adult or a juvenile. If the judge decides to sentence the teenager as an adult, he could face ten years for manslaughter, 20 years for using a firearm in a crime, and 5 years for being a minor with a firearm.

The squeegee workers exemplify how a capitalist society treats those it has deemed dispensable. These mostly Black young people stand in traffic offering to clean windshields for tips. They have grown up in redlined neighborhoods where the government and profiteers have purposefully stripped their communities of resources based on racism, including public transportation, grocery stores, and well-paying jobs. They are thrown into an underfunded school system that doesn’t have proper heating and cooling, but does have unclean drinking water coming out of its fountains and faucets, and is indifferent to whether students come to school or not. They are growing up in impoverished communities where 14-year-olds must work the streets to support themselves and in violent neighborhoods where it makes sense for teenagers to carry guns to keep themselves safe.

This verdict is an outrage! These teens should not have to put themselves out on busy intersections in grueling and hazardous situations to survive. And, on top of that, they should not be put in a position where they must defend themselves in order to make a living. Regardless, these squeegee workers were attacked unprovoked by a white motorist swinging a baseball bat, putting all of these teens in an immediate life-or-death situation. They had every reason to defend themselves while on the job. The judges, prosecutors, and politicians who run this so-called “justice” system should not be able to decide that a teenager should be tried as an adult. They have no right to decide that a teenager has no good reason to carry a gun. They should be asking themselves why a teenager would have a gun and kill a motorist, and why there are so many teenagers who must find dangerous work out on the streets. This racist, capitalist system has reared its ugly head again and shown what people must do in this society just to stay alive.