As the city of Baltimore is rocked by protests over the recent death of Freddie Gray in police custody, fans of the Orioles baseball team have been complaining about having to stay in the stadium until the marchers subside for “public safety concerns”. A team executive, John P. Angelo took to Twitter to respond to those complaints:
“The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance and other abuses of the bill of rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kid’s game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards…We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic, civil and legal rights and this … makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”
He should be commended for having the courage to chastise his team’s fans at a time of great upheaval, not only in the city of Baltimore but across the nation. The facts surrounding the death of Freddie Gray are still unclear, but what is known is somehow between being arrested and detained, his spine was severed and he died from his injuries after being denied medical care by six police officers, who have been suspended until both an internal and a Justice Department investigation is complete. He was buried today, drawing thousands of mourners, public officials, and representatives from the White House. Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, a New Yorker choked to death by police officers, was present, and angrily stated that “It’s like there is no accountability, no justice…It’s like we’re back in the `50s, back in the Martin Luther King days. When is our day to be free going to come?”
It seems that with every passing week, more and more stories of police brutality and the killing of innocent African-American men come to light. At least 111 Americans were killed by police last month; the numbers could be high as one murder every eight hours. It’s clear that the culture of violence cultivated among those who are supposed to protect and serve has gotten out of control. The American constitution promises it’s citizens a fair and speedy trial when accused of a crime, not their summary execution.
The protests in Baltimore have occasionally turned violent, especially among those populated by black youths, who often end up feeling the brunt of police violence in the city’s impoverished neighborhoods. The sheer frustration and anger is palpable among not only the common people but among black leaders and politicians. The Senate judiciary committee is currently considering ordering every police minority killing subject to investigation by the Justice Department, but knowing the Republicans who control Congress, progress is not likely in the short term. Justice demands to be served, and we are all hypocrites if we allow these extrajudicial murders to continue unpunished.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.