Baltimore: Why it was justified

John McClatchy

At the core of the riots is something we all need to talk about.

Last Resort Graphic / J. Faunce
Last Resort Graphic / J. Faunce

Most know the story of Baltimore: Freddy Gray was killed in police custody, and the resulting protests turned into deadly riots.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that these protests turned into riots soured the message of the protests.

The story of Freddy Gray is all too familiar to those who follow these stories: a young black man is killed at the hands of police, and the black community rises up in protest that then turns into riots.

Despite the riots, looking at what happens in the lives of young black men at the hands of police across the nation shows that sometimes rioting is the only way to get people talking about the issues at hand.

In a previous story, former News Editor Jake Sorenson said that video evidence changed everything in the context of the killing of Walter Scott in South Carolina. It was cut and dry, the cop did wrong, and there were little to no protests.

It’s when there isn’t video evidence, and when the police department is being hushed about the investigation, when people get anxious.

Sometimes even video evidence doesn’t solve everything. It happened with Michael Brown, and even Eric Garner, which was caught on video. And now, Freddy Gray’s arrest was caught on video, but protests and riots broke out.

So what needs to happen is clear and honest communication between the police and the citizens they protect. When that open communication doesn’t happen is when events like riots do happen.

I will admit my view is controversial. Riots are breaking the law, justified or not. Still, even reflecting back to the Civil Rights Movement, it took rioting from the hands of Malcolm X for Martin Luther King Jr. to succeed.

Riots are the last resort for people who feel that they have no voice. When peaceful protests get nothing done, rioting gets the issue at hand to the front page of every newspaper and the first segment of every primetime news show. It gets people talking about the issue, and gets a response from legislators.

If riots achieve only one thing, it’s that it gets people talking. The only thing we can hope for is that this conversation leads to something more than just another uneasy calm in American cities.