Thomas Terrio's View from the West Past Opinion age May 2015
Edition 125-May 1, 2015
No justice,no peace
The time is now for a racial Renaissance in America
By Thomas Terrio

Like Ferguson, Missouri, the riot in Baltimore is painful to watch, even from a safe distance in Canada. American society in self-destruct mode, caused by the corruption and decay within. Once again the modern day cell phone video clip exposes the Blue Wall of Silence; the more that's exposed, the more young people become disillusioned, angry, and prone to more violence. Young people looting, pelting police cars with rocks, and cutting fire hoses to make a statement of rage against their local governments; another sad day in another strife ridden city in the Land of the Free.

Barack Obama’s promise of change hasn’t changed much. The façade of freedom pulled back to reveal the ugly underbelly of racial intolerance and prejudice in the inner cities of America. Another dead black man to encourage street gangs such as the Crips and Bloods to ally with organizations like the Nation of Islam to “take out” Baltimore’s law enforcement following the death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, arrested for carrying a switchblade.

After his arrest, Gray had severe injuries to his spinal cord and was treated for three fractured vertebrae and a crushed larynx; injuries doctors say are usually caused by serious automobile accidents. There has been no explanation from police or authorities.

Religious leaders gathered quickly to march and sing in the neighbourhood streets to quell the rioters. But the singing didn’t stop the burning or lawlessness as nighttime set-in. The subsequent riot resulted in 144 vehicles burned, more than 200 people arrested, and 15 buildings set ablaze. A state of emergency now exists, the National Guard has arrived, and a curfew ordered.

So much for addressing the problem of the riot, but now who will address the root of the problem in America’s inner cities? I am at a loss as most Canadians are in understanding this type of behavior. But understandably so, a society which grew rich on slavery from Africa and did not compensate or rehabilitate its victims of such an atrocity, has now become a victim itself. Indeed, an unwritten self-fulfilling prophesy. To lose sight of the past is to lose sight of what we are experiencing today.

What you see is not necessarily the whole truth. People are marching in America because they must. Injustice is a very unclean and dirty thing, as we have seen recently with the police killings of unarmed black men across the United States. The revolution of change will be no-less victimless. Odds are, things are not going to get better, because this civil rights movement has a timetable all its own. In my view, it’s too late to stop what is about to unfold in America within the next ten years. American society has been polarized politically since the Bush/Gore presidential campaign of 2000. For those who want peace, tolerance, and the ability to live and work without fear, it’s time to speak-up, because your silence or acquiescence will only fuel the racial divide. The time is now for a racial Renaissance in America.

Corruption in Baltimore is no less systemic than it was in Ferguson. For example, the local jail known as the Baltimore Detention Center was a hotbed of corruption involving prison guards who took gifts and bribes from gang members who essentially controlled the facility. The gang named the Black Guerrilla Family led by career criminal Tavon White, took control of the jail in 2009.

Indictments have been filed in Federal court outlining how six female prison guards had sex with gang members while smuggling drugs into the facility among other nefarious activities; several were impregnated. Even the celebrated Frederick Douglass High School could not escape the surrounding corruption. IIs principal Antonio Hurt recently pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of nearly $2 million in a previous job in Georgia, where federal money intended for the purpose of feeding local disadvantaged children was spent by Hurt to purchase jewellery and lease luxury automobiles.

Furthermore, Baltimore has had more than its share of police issues. In the past four years, $5.7 million has been paid out in damages to more than 100 people in settlements and court judgments related to police brutality and civil rights violations. One case involved a pregnant woman, another a 15-year-old boy. And a particular nasty case, which involved an 87-year-old senior woman who suffered a broken shoulder at the hands of police.

Contrary to investing in itself, America has been investing in foreign wars which have drained its national treasure, instead of re-building its own infrastructure. Indeed, the U.S. has spent billions building bridges and schools in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than providing for the needs of its own people in impoverished neighbourhoods in and around cities like Baltimore.

It is too much to bear wondering about the future of those young people struggling with an identity mired in racial violence. People expected more from President Barack Obama, but he too is blocked at every turn by the GOP. The total disconnect of the Conservative Republican Party with respect to the poverty experienced by Black and Hispanic Americans is acute.

In my view, this is not a Black against White issue, but one of political ideology. One where America must decide what kind of nation it hopes to become; a nation where everyone benefits from the blessings the United States has to offer, or a nation on the verge of chaos with no justice and no peace.

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