The Truth About Baltimore

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Bolton Hill, Baltimore
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Artscape, Baltimore | Source
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Harborplace in the Inner Harbor | Source
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Hippodrome in Baltimore | Source
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Honfest in Hampden, Baltimore | Source
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Honfest in Hampden, Baltimore | Source
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Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore | Source
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Inner Harbor, Baltimore | Source
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Inner Harbor, Baltimore | Source

An Introduction From My Friend, Nairobi Collins:

Dear Baltimore friends, this may be a stupid plea but I'm begging you to keep fighting the media. They have tried over and over again to make us look like a ravaged metropolis left bare by riots. Tell your family and friends and most definitely strangers that we already looked like hell long before that tiny uprising. You can't dupe us like L.A. or Chicago or even New York. This town is small enough and connected enough by community to shut down the sack of lies being spread about our city, our children and even our stupid police. Baltimore PD to me was better than the others in that it seemed to kill fewer people than the other major cities. If this were LA or New York and we had this "violent protest" bulls**t, a lot of us would be dead or eating and s**tting through tubes. These fools had rocks thrown at them and kept their composure and you know some of them had "the itch" but it didn't happen. Bruises, a few beatings, but no death. This unrest is special. We are just a little too close to DC to ignore. When people ask you how it is in our little war zone, you tell them the truth. Some made a mess, some cleaned it up....it will happen again. Until America learns how to treat the poor with sympathy and respect, America will learn what it is to have stupid people terrorizing them in the name of justice. ~ Nairobi Collins

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Baltimore, Maryland

Initially, I did not want to write this hub. I am sure all of you have heard about the Baltimore riots this week, and that is probably why you are reading this hub. Some of you may not even be my usual readers. If you are one of my followers, you know that I rarely write about serious topics. But this one is dear to me: Baltimore and how it is being misrepresented on TV.

Currently, channels like CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have been having a field day putting down the city I love. I am sure many of you from other parts of the country, and even the world, think our little city is just full of criminals that are burning our own city down. Well, that is simply not true. What you are seeing is a small part of what Baltimore is... at this moment.

I have shed tears over this issue and agonized over how I would write a hub appropriate for the circumstances. I have started this hub, stopped this hub, deleted portions, added portions, and this is what I have to offer. I do not want to get carried away with talking about race relations. Yes, the riots and the protests have a lot to do with race. Yes, the protests have even more to do with the police in Baltimore. But, in my opinion, the riots are more about the "haves" and "have nots" of Baltimore. We have some super trendy neighborhoods, but yet we have neighborhoods that are falling to the ground.

What did you know about Baltimore before this? I am sure most of you know the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. I will bet some of you have watched crime shows like "The Wire" and you think just walking down the street in Baltimore is dangerous. Still, there are those of you that are twisted like me and enjoy a good John Waters flick every now and then; you probably think we are all a quirky bunch. Well, in a way, all of that is true, but Baltimore is so much more.

Baltimore is full of neighborhoods, some good and some bad. Baltimore has the Inner Harbor, which includes the Baltimore National Aquarium, a Science Center, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, and plenty of upscale shopping. Baltimore has beautiful parks, museums, and colleges. As a matter of fact, we are basically a college town because of all the many universities and colleges all over the area. We even have our own Little Italy. For that matter, Baltimore has a very diverse group of residents. Tourists visit our beautiful town... although they are not likely to do so now because of the riots. So now I will discuss that dreaded topic.

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Freddie Gray

The riots and protests started with Freddie Gray. Mr. Gray was arrested by the police on April 12. He was put in the back of a police van and not buckled in safely. Freddie Gray was in the back of that van for 40 minutes. Mr. Gray's family members have stated his voice box was crushed and his neck was snapped by the police. The police also did not allow him to get medical attention in a timely manner. Unfortunately, Mr. Gray passed away a week after the incident due to a spinal injury. Family members as well as much of the Baltimore community feel his death is due to police brutality.

Initially, a number of peaceful protests began in Baltimore. These protests went on for days with little or no national attention. Suddenly, all of that changed once the violence, rioting, and looting begin. Now, the national media can't get enough of Baltimore. The truth is, hardly any Baltimore residents were involved in the rioting, but plenty of people have come out to show their support in peaceful demonstrations. Yet the focus is on "Scary Baltimore" which is not very accurate.

Riots are Not Protests

Probably the most important thing I can stress is that riots are not protests. I am tired of hearing supposedly reputable news channels use the terms as if they are the same. Thousands and thousands of protesters have peacefully marched for this cause. Only hundreds of people have actually rioted.

Those that rioted are not part of the protest. They are using Freddie Gray as an excuse to take their anger and resentment out on innocent people. They are also using this as an excuse to loot businesses. The Freddie Gray protesters have too much to lose and want so much to support their cause. The rioters ruined their ability to be taken seriously, which is something that upsets many of us.

Part of the problem is the media coverage on this issue. National news channels speak of the citizens of Baltimore as if they are savages. Everyday is full of terror! Nothing could be further from the truth. If it were true, my fiancé and I would not have calmly drove through the city of Baltimore yesterday without any fear. If it were true, my fiancé would not have given up on CNN and switched over to the BBC to see real news. If it were true, I would not be writing this hub; I would probably be packing up my stuff and getting out!

Our local news channels are doing what they can to honestly report the news, and for this, I am grateful. They've explained the timing of calling the National Guard even though others outside of Baltimore have been judging that decision. I've seen their eyes well up with tears when reporting about the neighborhoods that have been trashed. You see, they live it everyday. Don't believe that reporter shipped in from some national news channel that doesn't even know the difference between Bolton Hill or Hampden.

Photo of donations made to the volunteer fire department during the riots. My friend took this photo after she made her donation of water, snacks, and gum.
Photo of donations made to the volunteer fire department during the riots. My friend took this photo after she made her donation of water, snacks, and gum. | Source

Baltimore is Not Full of Savages

If you do not live in Maryland, you may be watching the news coverage thinking we are all a bunch of crazed people. You probably also think Baltimore has burnt to the ground. You may also think we have a bunch of police officers that knock out innocent people as they walk down the street. None of this is true.

Baltimore has a population of over 600,000 residents. So far, there has been a little over 200 arrests for the riots. Obviously, that means most residents are not out rioting. Most residents of Baltimore are upset over their city and watching some of it burn. By the way, that is another misconception. Yes, there were plenty of fires and that is tragic, but the city is much larger than that and most of it is fine. As a matter of fact, while driving through Baltimore today, it did not look that much different from how it always looks. As far as the police here, are there some bad apples? Yes, definitely. Are they all bad? Of course not! I know police officers in this area; some are cool people, and some, well, maybe they should not be cops.

Plenty of Baltimore Moms Discipline Their Kids

Another image that has been overplayed throughout the riots is the Baltimore Mom hitting her son because he was throwing rocks at the police. While I applaud this mother for taking action, the news has portrayed her as the only mother in Baltimore that knows how to be a parent. That is not true.

Once again, only hundreds were involved in the riots, yet there are thousands of teenagers in Baltimore. Not every Baltimore kid is a thug or a punk. There are plenty of moms out there knocking some sense into their kids, but it is just not caught on camera. Most of these parents are keeping their kids inside and not allowing them to be a part of the situation.

The Riots

So let's discuss the riots. Let's talk about the only CVS in that particular neighborhood and how its been burnt down. So many people relied on that CVS for food and medication, and now, they have nowhere else to go. But did you know that many people from the community came out to help clean up? Did you know the Yellow Cab Company is taking elderly residents to other CVS stores for free? Yes, we can't deny the terrible truth, but we can't deny how many people care about this city. We refuse to let Baltimore go down!

Are there people who are so angry at Baltimore they want to burn it down? Yes, sadly there are. If you are not from this area, it is hard to picture Baltimore. It is what some of us call a checkerboard. Some areas are extremely upscale, yet you turn the corner and see total poverty. I am sure it must be difficult to live in poverty, and struggle each day harassed by the police simply because you are poor and walking in a bad neighborhood.

I realize we live in the "land of opportunity," but there are many residents that are not able to see any of that opportunity. I don't condone violence or looting, but it is not hard to understand why this happened. Freddie Gray's death was the final straw for some people that have just had enough. Is this the majority of people in Baltimore? Of course not. The poorest residents are law abiding except for a few bad apples. The people that rioted and looted were few and far between. As great as Baltimore is, we can't just brush off what happened either. We do need to face what happened. We need to make sure it does not happen again.

I believe in Baltimore. I choose to live in the Baltimore area almost 14 years ago. I love Baltimore and so does just about anyone else you talk to about Baltimore in this area. Burn some of our city down (a small portion at that) and we will fight to rebuild. So when CNN or Fox News or MSNBC tries to report on our city that they barely know anything about, we are going to get defensive. Do we need to make changes? Of course, that is why there are protests... peaceful protests. Are most of the citizens of Baltimore good people. Yes! Are we frustrated by the national coverage of Baltimore? Yes! And that is why I had to write this hub.

Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle

Oh, where do we begin?

The rubble or our sins?

And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we love.

Great clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above.

— Bastille "Pompeii"

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Comments 15 comments

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 19 months ago from Central Florida

It's nice to read the point of view of a Baltimore resident, Jeannie. This took guts. I appreciate your candor.

Unfortunately, things like this go on in most big cities and that's all that's reported. When will the media choose to throw in some human interest stories? There's plenty of good going on in the world. Why don't we ever hear about them?


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 19 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

You are so right, bravewarrior. Every now and then, something nice is mentioned, but then they skip back to what is wrong with the world. I also can't stand how the speculate the entire time an event is happening. I would just rather they wait and get accurate facts.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 19 months ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Jeannie,

Well done you I too applaud you in the manner you wrote this piece, keeping it all together must be difficult. I have had public misconceptions on my own country namely Dublin where I am from and currently live. Also Belfast in Northern Ireland. The media has much to answer for in the way it portrays events like what has been happening in your hometown. What people easily forget is all the positives far outweigh the negatives. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing this.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 19 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you, Suzie HQ. It is a shame that so many people have misconceptions about different places. I understand the events that take place in certain locations need to be known, but it says so little about all the other aspects of a town. I have heard quite a few things about Ireland, and I am sure half of it is inaccurate. It can be so frustrating!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

The media is attracted to the worst of drama, looting, and violence, and unfortunately outsiders rather than people with a real change agenda or message typically seek the limelight. It's too bad that oftentimes those who are harmed are the ones who are already disadvantages, such as the elderly or poor (e.g., the ones who had the one CVS burned by rioters).


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 19 months ago from Charlotte, NC

Thank you for the insight from one who lives there. Baltimore sounds like a great place to live in this Hub and yes you are correct, the media news I am seeing on TV make Baltimore look like a war slum. I happened to see a program on PBS last night about the Kent State University riots and shootings back in 1970 and got this overwhelming sense of History repeating itself. Great hub and thanks for going through with writing it.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 19 months ago from American Southwest

I have not watched the national media for decades now, since I have personally experienced how they see what they want to see, which is pretty much whatever gets attention, and therefore whatever is inflammatory. And then they leave and ignore things going well and being rebuilt, and the inflammatory impression remains. One of my relatives still, after 16 years, seems to think Colorado = the Columbine shooting, and doesn't visit. Thank you for giving us the real picture on Baltimore, and may your city arise better than ever after this is over.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 19 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

FlourishAnyway, yes, the media does love its drama. The news becomes more and more about sensationalism each year, and I gave up hope on it long ago. This time around, my eyes have really been opened. And yes, I feel terrible for those that live in the neighborhood that no longer has any type of grocery store or drug store. Many in that area do not even have cars, so they are going to be in trouble. Thank you for your comment.

Efficient Admin, Baltimore is an interesting city to live in. There is something for everyone. I've lived in this area for a long time by choice. It is not the terribly slum the media wants you to think. Thank goodness today the 6 officers were charged that are involved in the case. I am hoping that will calm things down a bit, but we need to keep talking about the issue. Things need to change or history will repeat itself again. And thank you! I was nervous about writing this hub, but so far, so good.

aethelthryth, I suppose you would have a strong opinion about the news since you live in Colorado. When I think of Colorado, I usually picture snow and mountains. I am sorry one of your relatives still only things of Columbine. Of course, I am sure there is much more to Colorado that just snow, mountains, and Columbine, too. Thanks you for checking out my hub and for the kind words.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 19 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

All i knew about Baltimore was that it's a small city not far from Washington. We saw the riots on TV over here in New Zealand but the news media didn't really go into the reasons for them

They did report that they were a result of the shooting but no one really saw the riots as a protest but more just 'mindless'

Thank you for the hub showing folks who care about where they live

By the way the big media outlets have corporate owners who are only interested in making money. Scandal sells news but the blogger can tell the truth. That's why the media doesn't like social media

Lawrence


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 19 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you, Lawrence. It is interesting to hear you only know about the riots in New Zealand, but no reason for them. And yes, the big media outlets only want to make money, not actually report the news. It is a shame. There is a group of us in Baltimore covering everything through social media, so they can only keep telling their lies for so long. There are too many bloggers here in Maryland to keep us down.


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 19 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

You express your views very well in this hub. You have gotten me interested in Baltimore and all there is to love about it as a visitor or a resident.

The online article The Shocking Statistics of Racial Disparity in Baltimore A Look at the City through Numbers That Tell a Story by Bill Quigley cites statistics that show Baltimore to be a city divided, as you say, between haves and have-nots, with poor blacks being the bottom caste

The online article Baltimore's Poor White Residents Also Feel Sting of Police Harassment Residents of Poor White Pigtown, Also Called 'Billyland,' Say Money Means More Than Color to Police by Wilson Dizard also shows the haves and have-nots division.

What, step by positive step, do we the people—the rich, the poor, and the middling—need to do to create a society that better meets all of our needs?


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 19 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, B. Leekley. I think about this type of thing all the time. One of the problems we are seeing in Baltimore right now is transportation. Many of the people that do not have a lot of money do not have vehicles. The public transportation system leaves a lot to be desired here. The city would like to start working on improving it by adding a subway system similar the metro in DC. However, there are people fighting it.... mostly the "haves" not the "have nots" disapprove of it.

Some neighborhoods have no public transportation, or what they do have only takes them to other neighborhoods with little opportunities. If there was suddenly a system that allowed for people in poor neighborhoods to easily travel to neighborhoods with the better paying jobs, then it would cause too much stress to those in the "nice" neighborhoods. Just having access to better paying jobs and better schools would be a huge help to those that need a little extra help, It would just possibly take away some opportunities from those in those nice neighborhoods, so you can imagine why they are trying to prevent it. Of course, that would only be the beginning, but it would be a nice start.

Don't even get me started on the problems with minimum wage and why it should be raised each year!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 18 months ago from East Coast, United States

Hi Jeannie, I'm a bit late on reading this but certainly applaud your pride in Baltimore. I live a few blocks from the city line. Watching the whole scene unfold, I was appalled at some of the coverage. Several days after the riot, one national news reporter reported a shooting. He claimed that he saw a police officer shoot someone in the back. This did not happen, but the idea that the idiot would say a thing like that on national TV was unbelievable. He should have been fired.

Sadly, Baltimore has lost many jobs as the big manufacturing companies left. Many jobs have moved out into nearby counties in places like Hunt Valley, a place low wage workers could never afford to live. It's hard enough to find a decent job, but when you have a rap sheet, it becomes impossible. People wonder why young men run from the police. Get arrested and lose the job you got - if you don't show up for work because you've been arrested for even some small thing, you are gone. It's a mess for many.

But there are a lot of people out there who are trying real hard to make Baltimore a better place to live, who are making it a great place to live. Thanks for being one of them.


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 18 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

Unfortunately, if all of the protests were peaceful, it is unlikely that anyone outside of Baltimore would have heard of Freddie Gray. It is the violence that gets the national attention. To the national media, Riots are newsworthy, peaceful protests are not.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 18 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Dolores Monet, it has been a really sad time here, hasn't it? The lack of jobs have definitely caused desperation. I really do think a better public transportation would help so everyone could have better access to jobs that may not be in the city. I am glad to hear from someone else that was shocked by the news coverage, too. I now question everything I saw on national news channels in the past... even more so than before!

Thanks for checking out my hub. I am glad people are still reading it since nothing has really been resolved, in my opinion.

Sherry Hewins, you are so right. When the protests were peaceful, no one paid attention. It was until the violence started that national news got interested. Of course, they lied about half of what they reported, but at least the issue got some attention. Thanks for your comment.

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