In Baltimore last night, “peaceful” protests over the case of a black man fatally injured while in police custody moved into the inevitable violence phase. Stores were vandalized and looted, glass bottles were thrown, car windows were smashed, and arrests were made. Before police (aka the enemy) could contain the rioters, the mob spilled over into the section of town where Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles, is situated. A game at the ballpark had just concluded, and fans were ordered to remain in their seats until the crowds out on the streets could be dispersed.
The man whose death was the catalyst for last night’s protest, Freddie Gray, succumbed on April 19 to a still-unexplained spinal injury he sustained after police arrested him a week earlier in an area of city known for drug deals and violent crimes. According to court records Gray “fled unprovoked upon noticing a police presence.”
Needless to say, the case has been grist for much discussion and attendant hand-wringing by the liberal media, which doesn’t need the ongoing investigation to be concluded before identifying the cause of Gray’s death: use of excessive force by police. Up until now, race has not been mentioned as a factor, possibly because Baltimore police commissioner Anthony Batts is black, but that deficiency was corrected last night. Cherrell Brown, a community organizer, didn’t just play the race card while appearing on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show on MSNBC (video here). She laid down the entire deck. Her remark was so outrageous that even Harris-Perry had to blink.
The transcript follows.
HARRIS-PERRY: It feels to me like part of what’s happening here is — when I say biking while black, we talked about walking while black, in the case in the Freddie Gray watching the video and seeing and hearing his agony I keep wondering is there no benefit of a doubt given to a black person in public space. If that is true, if riding an expensive bike in black body inherently generates suspicion then that is the new Jim Crow. That’s what Jim crow was is that black bodies in public space are inherently suspicion.
BROWN: Yes. I want to mention two things — I think it is so ingrained that you don’t have to have a white person around to have white supremacy play out. [Emphasis added]
HARRIS-PERRY: Just pause for a second. What you just said there is going to be difficult for some folks to hear because the discourse of white supremacy can often mean academic discourse. But for ordinary people sitting at home may say did she call all white people racist. So tease that out a little bit.
BROWN: I will do my best.
HARRIS-PERRY: I recognize that it’s hard on a TV show.
BROWN: With an institution like American policing that I believe is founded on anti-blackness, on slave patrols there are things so institutionally ingrained in terms of how we police communities that are anti-black. They may not say in the language that they’ll stop and target black people but when you do this type of proactive policing much akined [sic] to stop and risk this effects black and brown and poor communities. This would be almost comical this story in Tampa if it wasn’t so scary. You have 11 year olds, boys as young as 11 being stopped on their bikes in Tampa. This is introducing children to the criminal justice system at an early age.
(h/t Weasel Zippers)