The following is a hypothetical conversation between two young African American men, trying to decide whether to participate in the protest during the Freddie Gray funeral.
Jay: We’re several blocks from a group of protestors. Sure you want to do this?
Walter’s nice cushy degree in criminal justice going to be threatened? No career if he’s in a protest?
Jay: That’s not it. My livery cab passes the closed rec center every night. The school’s windows lie on the street, broken glass. Nothing changes.
What? Why you stop?
Walt: I’ve been busy like crazy, building with the construction people. Should see the waterfront…great restaurants… small shops and boutiques.
Jay: That’s why I thought of participating. For social change. But will the protest wake people up?
Walt: I see condos at $2,500.00 a month. Doormen stare at the waterfront.
Hold, Jay. Getting a call. Hello. Tyrone? What you mean police think gangs are a threat? Talking about a curfew?
Walt: They don’t know. The gangs met to make sure no violence would happen.
Don’t look at me. You wanted to protest.
WaIt: I don’t know now. I got a job I can lose. I know only four friends out of ten working. What? Now you want to go?
Conversations Instead of Baltimore Social Justice
by Glenn Greenidge
A Conversation With Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Alicia Garza - YouTube
Cleveland’s Police Change Fights City Hall
by Glenn Greenidge
While many mayors around the country struggle with a, “use of force” mentality shown by police departments, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has tilted the windmill of police power through a new guideline for police action.
Cleveland’s consent decree started because Jackson brought in the weight of the federal government’s Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Cleveland’s consent decree has implemented some tough standards for social change in the pattern of how the police uses force with citizens. The force in the past could be shown in images like the bullet riddled car where an unarmed black couple perished after a police chase. The images also come to mind of the 12 year-old boy with a toy gun who also was fatally shot.
Baltimore Hurts With Hunger Games
by Tom Pope
You might see a group of people standing over abandoned buildings. A small group of what might seem to be gang leaders struggle over supplies and medicine for the community. Then a startling vision of a hand salute in the air shows a coming protest for social change.
Are we talking about the Black Power salute and protests in Baltimore from a loss of community money that flows to the wealthy?
Actually, those were also images from the movie, Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The Catching Fire movie shows the actions of Katniss, a contestant from a poor district as she competes with other players to help her community.
Is Baltimore a present version of Catching Fire? Does the movie depict the reality of societies that take advantage of poor communities?
The society in Catching Fire conducts survival games where contestants from each district compete. The winner achieves benefits for a district. Meanwhile, wealthy sponsors support the contestants of their choice. But their wealth has come from plundering those districts’ resources
For example, District 11 maintains an agricultural base of orchards and wheat, yet people starve because the products flow to
Where Does the Money Go?
by Tom Pope
Imagine a van filled with police, coming to break up a gang that meets in a broken down lot of an abandoned house. The guns and shields come out as the gang members trip over broken windows.
While the scene flashes visuals of police and gangs, other hidden items come from the scene. The van, shields, and guns might have paid for funds to maintain the abandoned house.
Funds could have grown when money was cut to a recreation center that taught working skills to gang members. The rec centers could have turned the gangs into teammates who played in a sport’s tournament.
Baltimore’s social change protests came in part because of a political/economic system that aimed to divide its society, according to the Pueblo Lands blog. The blog comes from a sociologist and journalist working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pueblo Lands seeks to focus on power in the economy and through government.
The blog states that many residents became imprisoned as a distribution of wealth moved from local neighborhoods to corporate interests.
In one example of this political/economic force, prisons in California became a major business as small and large corporations found ways to increase funds from prison contracts.
Baltimore’s Bastille — Oppression From Developers?
by Tom Pope
We might recall in reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities where we embraced the crowds storming the oppressive French prison Bastille. We supported the fight for social change. We remembered the two families, one noble grown with vast estates and the second, a peasant family, which was denied rights to hunt, or make a living.
Today’s Baltimore protest points a finger on a modern day nobility that uses development to oppress the poor.
Development problems highlighted the Baltimore Brew’s article in 2013 about inducing development through tax breaks. The city bill 13-0176 sought to spur the city’s pilot program to build Harbor East and other high end properties, which would rely on payments in lieu of taxes.
The Baltimore Brew is a daily online journal featuring independent reporting about the greater Baltimore area.
The offer of 15 years of property tax breaks to developers to downtown business interests arose from complaints. Many businesses worried that tax incentives helped H&S Bakery mogul, John Paterakis.
“This incentive has been fueled by the dissatisfaction of old downtown Baltimore of incentives to get businesses to Harbor East,” said Councilman Carl Stokes.
“Downtown wants the same incentives to convert buildings that now have less occupancy because of the shift.”
Photography of Social Change
by Tom Pope
The following is my book review I’m reprinting from the Bookpleasures.com site. Bookpleasures.com offers viewers an indepth analysis of a book.
Author: Rod Raglin
When Freyja stumbles onto a street protest where police kill unarmed dissenters, her life changes from being a nonpolitical photographer into a social activist. Yet the transformation comes from the love of her creativity of photography rather than the yearning to support a politician.
Rod Raglin’s camera lens is focused on key ethical questions with his protagonist Freyja in the coming-of-age, social thriller The Big Picture. Raglin asks how do use our creativity to change the world. How do we define crime when we can view police and national players working with drug lords? Why do we imprison neighborhood addicts who require healthcare?
Through Freyja, he shows the growing rage at economic deals that benefit a few as they torture the community.
Freyja’s stumbling into a new perspective occurs when she took pictures of police killing peaceful protestors midst the smoke of tear gas.
Kenya’s Baltimore Offers Social Change
by Tom Pope
Baltimore could be seen during part of my upcoming novel called, The Violence of Ideas. The novel lies as part of my trilogy that tracks a former slave family through four generations between 1830 and 1920.
In the segment similar to Baltimore, the protagonist Rumi fights for Kenyan economic rights in the late 1800s’ Nairobi by separating the Kenyans from dealing with anything British.
Rumi builds a self-sustaining power. He develops some income for local residents. However, the British close down the operations. When Rumi encounters a British officer, Lawrence, he finds Lawrence has created a Free Trade Center. But even that faces a shutdown by the military.
Crowds of Kenyans sat defiantly at the Fair Trade Center, joining hands between some British settlers, many Arabs, and Kenyans. They sang as British troops boarded up the Free Trade Center that gave the people inexpensive foods and income from selling.
The military determined to close the building because they supported British business interests wanting to compete with the Belgian interests in nearby Congo.
Broken Windows Hurts Social Change
Baltimore Gangs — Propaganda Words or Misperception?
By Glenn Greenidge
A woman is whisked into a police car for breaking the law. Her flower cart contained two artificial flowers. Meanwhile, a subway rider is taken to the police station because his backpack lies on an adjacent seat. Even a 14 year-old became a criminal because she asked the officer why she was being detained. The charge had been truancy, but her actions in the minds of the police meant “resisting arrest.”
These examples highlight the concept of “Broken Windows”, a policy that targets low level crimes with the objective of preventing more serious crimes.
The examples come from the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) based on NYPD data, which shows misdemeanor arrests have remained largely level between the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations, with 94,243 arrests made during the first five months of 2013, and 97,487 made during the first five months of 2014.
However, violent crime has not remained steady, according to BBC.com online. In an article questioning why the murder rate has spiked, the figures show a 20 percent jump in the beginning of 2015.
While police advocates claim the Ferguson effect has prompted a criminal element, they ignore some real basic causes, according to Jeffery Ulmer, associate head of the department of sociology and criminology at Penn State University, Pennsylvania.
He told BBC.com that violent crime rates are mostly driven by social factors such as the size of the youth population, the amount of socioeconomic disadvantage, and social disorganization in a given city.
Those factors question the entire approach of the “broken windows” policy. Broken windows is broken, according to an article written by Peter Moskowitz for Gawker.com an online media Communities. The article mentions that communities of color often become targeted. The policy impacts the young members of economically disadvantaged communities. The site, Gawker.com, seeks to reveal alternative news and issues.
Commissioner William Bratton was the source of the original “Broken Windows” policy to stop crime under the Giuliani administration and the policy continued, beefed up by the Bloomberg administration.
The overall effect is that people of color are being targeted based on where they live. For example, jumping the subway turnstiles seems like a very minor offense, however the number of arrests associated with these jumpers has been on the rise, according to a New York Daily News article written by Barry Paddock and Sarah Ryley. The figures are up from 14, 681 in 2008 to 24,747 in 2013, with mostly people who cannot afford the subway fare of $2.75 for work, school, or visiting family.
Rather than decrease violent crime, the “Broken Windows” policy sets up a frustration that increases the likelihood of violence. Years of the policy create arrests, and once the person has a record, a downward cycle begins. These petty crimes arrest include pot possession, subway dancing, and other low level crimes designed to prevent more dangerous crimes from occurring.
While Commissioner Bratton used a form of community policing in LA, he seems not to understand the word community. The view by police that they are an occupying force meant to control a population, does not fit with the community concept of the police being helpers who work with community leaders. Communities should have a say in how their community policing is implemented. However, without improved relations, we will continue to experience harsh policing that promotes distrust and ill will in communities of color.
If you found this helpful, please contact Glenn at Glenn@FamersBlvd.Org.
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Look for a link soon in this spot for a blog radio talk about community issues.
By Glenn Greenidge
When young people protested in Baltimore, the words of “Thug Life” blasted the airways, giving many Americans the idea of the term glorified by Tupac actually showed all Black life.
However, the term’s negative emotional image on the youth in cities fails to stand up to reality. Yet the label continues to be reinforced by the media, police departments, and politicians. Those examples of media rely of “thug” from the dictionary definition as a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.
The public is being asked to accept that those children, such as high school students should have the label of being “thugs”. Meanwhile, often protestors are labeled “thugs” when any level of violence occurs against the police.
As a contrast, many Baltimore youth are frustrated by their lack of resources and their constant diminishment of opportunity, according to The RealNews.com, part of The Real News Network (TRNN), a non-profit daily video-news and documentary service. RealNews refuses to accept advertising, government, or corporate funding.
The Baltimore youth appeared in a video labeled, Baltimore Youth on Being Called Thug, where a youth group called the Drew More Baltimore spoke out about labeling. Consistent comments mentioned that their community lay in shambles with abandoned buildings for decades, as schools offered little educational opportunities, resulting in double-digit unemployment.
The Drew More Baltimore group does not condone the violence, but saw it as a means to get attention on a long standing problem. The youth have not worked out coping and problem solving skills and vented frustrations at the police, mentioning that some people were throwing rocks.
While all the violence was shown on most mainstream media, very little was said about the gang truce between some of the rival gangs in Baltimore.
“We protected so many reporters,” said Flex, a member of the Bloods street gang, according to an article by Baynard Woods of the Baltimore City Paper. “We surrounded so many reporters to make sure they got from this place to their group.”
When the gangs called a truce to work for the community, most of America was being feed the opposite image from the Baltimore Police Department. The statement from police said, a “credible threat” from the gangs existed.
A historic effort of Baltimore’s gangs to unite occurred to stop violence and bring issues of police brutality to light, according to Flex, who made an effort to meet with community leaders.
“We were protecting stores from looting and stuff like that,” Flex said. “Some cops threw smoke bombs at us and cops threw rocks at us.”
Not all gangs feel the same about the truce, according to Flex. The City Paper has Flex stating that, “There’s a lot of people in the Bloods and the Crips that disagree with certain things we’re doing because they’re young-minded and haven’t been in things.”
However, he said, “They have no choice because everybody is together, everybody for the people.”
Are these gang members simply “thugs gone good,” or do we have to be careful how we label groups of people, expressing themselves differently from us? The first inclination of the police pictured the gangs as ready to commit violence. It is always easier to label or categorize something we do not understand.
If we get to the source of the problems then maybe our communities can really have social change.
How do you judge the activities of gangs in your area?
What signs of gangs exist in your community who try to help the neighbors?
What is the state of rec halls and community centers in your area?