No desert in Baltimore

There is no desert in Baltimore, after two days of rioting. No peace. The source of the ground-churning is the death in police custody of a young man named Freddie Gray. News reports continue to refer to his death as a “mystery,” but there is nothing mysterious about a man whose spine is broken and no care given him while in the custody of the authorities, and who, as a result, dies. Civil government in Baltimore needs to come clean, name what happened to Freddie Gray, and begin prosecution of those responsible for his death.

Watching on the TV the scenes of violence and fire, I had mixed emotions. Sympathy with those who have grown frustrated with case after case, in city after city, of police brutality toward young black men. The objects of that violence were not necessarily passive and un-provoking, but not one deserved to die in their confrontations. It is hard to imagine, for one not the object of that prejudice, just how frustrating and even frightening this long series of events has been and is.

What is imaginable is how this violent behavior can escalate and threaten people who are close to me. And therein arose my other emotions: fear and retribution. It is also frightening to me that it is this combined reaction that churns in my core as a response to violence. I fear for my sister’s family, who live around Baltimore and work in the city, and I imagine myself going to their rescue.

This is the never-ending cycle of violence. Violent action—forgetting or delaying justice—more violent action. There can be no peace until the injustice is named and steps taken to address it. Until that happens, the threat of violence will grow wider and wider. Naming and addressing injustice is a more arduous response than simply picking up a stone or a gun, but the harder way, only, can offer hope of lasting peace.

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