As previously reported here, on July 7 in Baltimore, a white man with a master’s degree got out of his car with a metal baseball bat and swung it at several Black youths who were “squeegee workers,” offering to clean windshields for tips. Facing this attack, one of the youths pulled a gun and shot the driver, who died.
A week later, Baltimore’s police department charged a 15-year-old with first-degree murder in the case. This is outrageous! The case is tragic in many ways. But for the cops to call it first-degree murder when someone defends themselves against a sudden and potentially lethal attack is ridiculous. The law says that first-degree murder means that the murder was intentional and premeditated. The fact is that what happened was in the heat of the moment and witnessed by many.
What would the cops say if a white motorist shot and killed a Black squeegee worker who was carrying a baseball bat? We can’t say for sure, but who believes that “first-degree murder” would be their initial charge? We live in a racist society in which many Black youth believe that the best way to help feed their families is to do the dangerous work of washing windshields at stop lights. And then this society piles on by threatening life in prison, when instead it should recognize an act of self-defense and the desperation of the powerless whom our society has failed.