Update: Good lord -- Baltimore is burning! Please let this end.
There have been many great diaries today on the tragic rioting in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray. Tasini's "Baltimore Protest, Elite Ripping Off America More Important than Baseball: Baltimore Baseball Owner",
Angie in WA State's "What if the people assembled peaceably & Got greeted by Mayor/City Council instead of #Riot Police?",
idledilitante's "Widespread Protests in Baltimore Continue; Police Becoming Increasingly Aggressive",
jpmassar's "Baltimore. Tweetpics from the Streets."
Within these diaries, judgments have been made regarding the rioting. I hate riots but I understand them. I do understand them in Baltimore because I know the City. I'm just going to repeat a comment I made in Angie's diary:
I feel I need to respond to some of the comments herein and elsewhere regarding the rioting. I know Baltimore -- I was born, early educated and lived 13 adult years there. I lived on the east side but right near Charles Street which divides the city in half. It was/is a gorgeous, diverse neighborhood.
Walk a few blocks further east or cross MLK Blvd in the west and you find yourself in another Baltimore. Horrific schools, squalid rowhouses, rip off cash checking joints, no real grocery stores, remnants of decades decaying projects.
It smells of despair. It smells of death. It has been said that the murder rate is only a bit lower than DC because of Maryland Shock Trauma. Generations have lived in these ghettos and it is easy for this old white woman to comprehend unbridled rage when you've been treated like animals. When you can't get a frigging decent education. When basically everyone knows someone who has been murdered.
I hate rioting because it turns the clock back always, destroys neighborhoods, crushes empathy, injures and kills folks. All the news media and folks not involved remember is the rioting -- not the peaceful marching of over a thousand. The calls for calm from the community.
I just needed to get that off my chest because I'm sick of the tsk tsking.
Indulge me a moment. I was born in 1950 in Baltimore and spent my early education in the post Brown v. Board of Education on paper and not in reality schools. I only knew white kids. The only Blacks I interacted with were the Arabs (Long A) who sold fruits and veggies from pony drawn carts, the rag men who travelled down our alley and the garbage men (same alley).
My Mom would send us out with lemonade in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. She was despised for letting her kids interact with the niggers.
Moving along without discussing my truly racist (except my parents) extended family -- I went to UM Law School in downtown Baltimore starting in 1990 -- I was already 40. What the hell. My second year I was in a clinic where we worked on landlord/tenant issues. Our first case was in the Sandtown area where Freddie Gray was murdered. We were told to dress appropriately but don't bring in knapsacks, handbags or coats. Cockroaches.
Many of you can never imagine walking up three flights wanting to gag because raw sewage was a foot deep in the cellar. Our client was a single mom with four young kids. Her apartment was clean except for the ongoing peeling lead paint and cockroaches in daylight. She was working and living like . . . . America's most despised. We worked her case diligently because we so loved her and her adorable kids. One of her daughters wanted to touch my hair (it was long and straight) because she had never seen a white person's hair before. She corn rowed it. Yikes~!!
We were successful. So successful that the building and whole fucking block was condemned and everyone evicted. So much for fucking do gooder white privileged folks.
There's a world I never lived in -- same world I'd say most of you have never lived in. And yet the self-righteous finger wagging and condemnations: "Why would you trash, loot, burn, throw stones . . . ?" Really? I hate it. I hate that it comes to this horror. But if you don't understand why -- that is the biggest fucking problem in America. Even Liberals/Progressives/Whatevers don't understand why.
UPDATE: Thanks to Navy Vet Terp's comment re: Habitat for Humanity in Sandtown. He includes a link to the work done in Freddie Gray's neighborhood.