The youth of Baltimore are one step closer to finally seeing justice in their neighborhood after Freddie Gray’s death was officially ruled a homicide.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced this morning that her office found “probable cause to pursue criminal charges in connection to the case.”
Each of the six officers are facing a variety of different charges, including manslaughter, second degree assault and false imprisonment.
One of the most serious charges accuses the van’s driver, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., of second degree depraved heart murder.
Mosby added that Gray’s very arrest falls under question because the knife he had was not a switchblade and therefore “lawful,” adding that police “failed to establish probable cause for an arrest.”
After days of protests, weeks of speculation and years of injustice, it’s the tiniest glimmer of hope, but still one of the few glimmers that this community has seen in quite some time.
So take another good look at the so-called “thugs” and “animals” that have filled the streets of Baltimore.
Through the media’s lens they are “senseless” and violent. They need beatings by their parents in order to turn their lives around and they are the only people standing in their own way.
That’s how mainstream media tells their story, but with every passing day the young people of Baltimore, Ferguson, New York City and communities all across the country are fighting to take back their narrative, their neighborhoods and their futures.
“I want the media and the nation to know we are not thugs,” protester Alize LeGrand, a student at Baltimore Community College, told The Root. “We’re just tired. Baltimore has less opportunities than most cities. The educational system sucks.”
These protesters and rioters are not “thugs.” They are activists.
They are not senseless. They are frustrated.
They are not violent. They are exhausted.
They are not products of bad parenting. They are the targets of America’s racially biased systems and they have been ignored for far too long.
“The most misrepresented thing is that it is unprovoked,” one Baltimore protester, 23-year-old Antwain Jordan, told The Root. “The riots were a response to a day in the life of acute oppression. The school system is underfunded. The police harass the students. Opportunities are slim. There is a lack of options or access. There are so many things coming at them—on purpose. That’s what they system is designed to do. Young people are outraged.”
The frustrations of trying to make a living in one of America’s most impoverished, disadvantaged communities has finally erupted into window-smashing displays amidst a sea of overwhelmingly peaceful protests and have left the country teetering along the border of a complex question—is it acceptable to use “unethical” means to reach an ethically just end?
The complexities of that question are what has landed one Baltimore teen behind bars with a bail that exceeds the amount given to some murderers in the same city.
After being captured in photos and on video smashing the windows of a police vehicle, 18-year-old Allen Bullock was encouraged by his stepfather to turn himself in to authorities.
He was rewarded for that action with a $500,000 bail and a possible life sentence for the eight charges that were brought against him.
It’s that very realization that caused the teen’s frustration to boil to the point of hurling a traffic cone and a trash can at a car. Bullock belongs to a community that has been peacefully asking for change and assistance for years but failed to receive any national coverage of deeply rooted issues in the community until people like him turned to less peaceful means of protest.
“My son isn’t an evil child,” his mother said in a video published by The Guardian. “He’s not somebody to just go around hurting people…He was really upset about them police just walking free. You gave my son a half-a-million dollar bail for breaking a police window and you gave these cops nothing. Nothing for murder? That’s crazy.”
Bullock’s mother added that she expects her son to do some jail time for causing damage but the punishment and bail presented in his case seem to be far greater than the crime.
Bullock’s mother is urging for some help to get her son’s bail lowered so she could at least spend more time with him.
Both parents also noted that the teen was earning reasonable wages and could pay for the damage done to the car if he is released from jail.
Bullock’s mother added that the entire situation is “ridiculous” and his stepfather insisted that the police are clearly trying to make an example out of him.
With so many rioters facing jail time and hefty fines or bail, 16-year-old Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg couldn’t help but call out America on the sheer hypocrisy of it all.
She compared the unrest in Baltimore to a scene in the Hunger Games—a comparison that seems eerily accurate in and of itself.
While people praised the riots that broke out in the Hunger Games following the death of her character Rue, they are now condemning that same reaction after an actual life was lost.
“Can we talk about how in District 11 after Rue’s death, the entire district rioted,” she wrote in a post on Tumblr. “They burned and broke things. Everybody watching the movie loved it because they saw the unjust government for what it was. A little black girl died.”
“Yet when a black boy dies in real life and people start riots over their unjust government, they’re ridiculed and labeled ‘dangerous,’ “ she added.
On her Twitter account she also urged people not to condemn the anger of a clearly frustrated community.
“Don’t denounce our pain as savage,” the tweet read. “What’s savage is the cruel inhumanity and brutality of the police. Condemn that.”
She followed the statement with another tweet, writing, “My prayers go out to all my brothers & sisters in Baltimore. This battle is hard but crucial. The revolutionary youth will change the world.”
Starting with Baltimore.