Looting and Rioting Won’t End Brutality

I get it. A guy is arrested by police, suffers a severed spine in the process and dies. I was outraged when the video of the arrest first surfaced and was pleased to hear there would be a formal investigation with the officers involved put on leave. That’s how the system works. And with a hyphenated black/female-mayor of Baltimore there was no doubt that the investigation would be thorough.

But that’s not good enough for the Sharptonesque rent-a-mobs. It doesn’t matter that the system is working. It doesn’t matter that justice is being served. They want to show up and burn down. That’s what they do. That’s what they did.

And the mayor sure didn’t help by saying the city needed to give the protesters space to destroy. Why didn’t she offer the “space” of her home if she so believed in their right to destruction. Then she looked all surprised when they looted and burned.

Surprised? This is what these people do. These people? Yes, those who lie in wait for a racial moment to exploit. Are they angry? Perhaps. More like crazy. What’s even crazier is a mayor and police force that stand by as they torch a couple of police cars, then loot and burn a CVS store. Now, to give credit, the police commissioner was as outraged as anyone with the conduct of the thugs who looted and burned and, perhaps, his department was just outmanned. However, allowing even the least bit of destruction can only embolden the criminals to take it to the next level.

Is there a problem with police brutality? I’m willing to entertain that possibility. A severed spine during an arrest sounds pretty brutal to me. Do you solve a police brutality problem by burning down a drug store? Absolutely not. That’s the part that enrages me. Anyone who justifies looting and burning is as big a thug as the looters and arsonists.

There has always been a tense relationship between the police and minority communities. It’s sort of a Catch-22. These communities are where the highest crime rate is so, naturally, they’re going to have a greater police presence. Were the police to simply withdraw and leave the community to the criminals they would be accused of racism. So, this powder keg is ever-present. It only takes a spark to set it off, which is exactly what happened in Baltimore. The funeral for Freddie Gray was that spark and the result was a raging fire.

For the mayor to even suggest that rioters need their space to destroy is totally irresponsible and she shoulders at least some of the blame for what happened. Baltimore has worked hard to reverse its reputation from the ’60s and ’70s as a complete dump of a town. I’ve visited Baltimore on a number of occasions and they’ve done a remarkable job remaking their city’s image. This ain’t gonna help.

Riots like this can do irreparable damage to a city, or at least a neighborhood. Watts has never recovered from the riots of 1965. What’s the chance a company is going to relocate to Ferguson, Mo., any time soon? Would you want to move there?

It starts with putting out the little fires first, like graffiti and gangs. I once suggested that to Jesse Jackson and he told me graffiti was the “hieroglyphics of oppression.” Need we look any further for the problem? When people of influence even remotely justify crime then it’s a green light for the criminals. And no one should be surprised when they burn your town down.

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About the Author

Phil Valentine is an author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host with Westwood One. For more of his commentary and articles, visit philvalentine.com.

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