Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Stone Throwers of Baltimore

Children in Baltimore throwing stones (bricks) to defend themselves against the police is universally recognized around the world as a symbol of resistance from the Palestinian struggle. However throwing stones is also seen by the police and media pundits as a form of "thuggery."

Police threw stones back at youth before being pelted with stones in Baltimore from Now This News

It's great see the mainstream media analyzing Baltimore's recent protests through historic context. Pop culture news rarely takes into account history's crucial role in the present and future especially if historical injustices and past crimes such as apartheid ie segregation in the United States facts into play. Baltimore is a run down to borrow an American saying. There are many abandoned buildings spread across the cities in both poor and middle class neighborhoods and a stone throw away from downtown and wealthier neighborhoods. Baltimore sits at the end of what was once the massive industrial region of the United States, now known as the Rust Belt.

A Brief History of the Rust Belt

Detriot is famous across the United States and around the world for being the motor city. Until the 1960s, Detroit was the home of American auto manufacturing. Ford, DuPoint and Chrystler churned out. an abandoned and half lived in city that resembles parts of Chernobyl or the ghost cities of China. Detriot is 8 hours plus away from Baltimore. It is also a border town along the U.S.-Canadian border regarded as one of the least non militaristic and peaceful borders in the world. One only wonders why.

Back to Baltimore. Like Detroit, Baltimore nicknamed "Charm City" used to be a point of reference for culture and trade in Maryland and along the Northeast region. Long before Mercedes Benz revolutionize transportation, most traders and peoples relied on trading ships and ferries to recieve products, goods and move people including slaves who were kidnapped, trafficked or managed to runway to freedom. Since the city's finding until the end of 19th century, Baltimore's harbor was one of many stopping hub for ships and peoples heading to New York, Boston, Detroit and south to DC. By the way, DC is less than an hour away from Baltimore. However the two cities are as different as night and day. It was in Baltimore where the U.S. national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. During the same war, British ships attempted to bombard and outright destroy the city describing it as a "nest full of pirates." Fort McHenry that sits near the city's harbor became a resistance post against the British forces. Eventually Baltimoreans defeated and drove the British out of the city while Washington, DC was burned by the fleeing British. In the 20th Century, the city became the home of the Baltimore Ravens (football) and Oriales (baseball). Both teams are well known around the country for the championships and players.

Benyamin Netanyahu on mowing lawns and the police by Bendib

History matters to everyone but the oppressive system

For over a 100 years and going back to 18th century, the city was segregated along ethnic lines with African Americans and Euro Americans living no different from the apartheid system put in place by the apartheid regime in South Africa. African Americans had always been in Baltimore throughout the city's history. When the 1920s Great Migration led to African Americans moving from the apartheid, Jim Crow Southern United States to the Northern states, the migrants were met with the same heavy handed racism and white supremacist system that they had left behind in the South. Racism might've been more subtle in the North but it was just as cruel and brutal in its treatment of African Americans. Police brutality and citywide curfews existed in Baltimore long before Freddie Gray. In 1968, Baltimore erupted into city wide protest over the assassination of Martin Luther King on April . The protest coincidentally occurred from April 6-14. If the children protesting and a few of the rioting adults yesterday realize remains to be seen. This is why the media keeps referencing the 1968 riots/protests but will not go into detail about it or won't show it on TV at least not on CNN nor heaven forbid on Fox News. The rest of the country followed suite as news spread about the King assassination. Many media pundits and politicians at the time feared the United States was headed toward a second civil war. What came out of the 1968 nationwide protests were the militant groups ie Black Panther and the Black Power movement who had stayed in the background or been ignored by white America. The FBI with its COINTELPRO and tough measures to calm and subdue strong African American organizations would put an end to the rising anger and militancy. Keep in mind the entire world was protesting and resisting military, police and government brutality from Mexico to France to Brazil.

Baltimore, Maryland riots 1968 in color

National Guard arrives again

Anyone who studies the old photos of American protesters in the 1960s or 1950s will noticed that the National Guard were used and deployed a lot by the national government to keep protesters at bay. It didn't matter if it was an anti-war protests about Vietnam or civil/human rights for African Americans. The National Guard often met protesters in the street or in front of the Pentagon among other places. Of course at this time, the United States didn't have the current SWAT team or militarized police guarding Baltimore's streets today. At the same time the militarized police are also breaking the spines, groins and beating the heads of ordinary Americans with and without criminal records. The National Guard have appeared to be from the old photos and currently quite level headed in dealing with the streets. 

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