The Truth About Baltimore
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
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.
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.
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.
Real Stories About 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"