Violence in Baltimore

The Monday night game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox was postponed due to “safety” concerns, in the wake of escalating civil unrest following the funeral Monday of Freddie Gray. Gray is the 25 year old black man who died recently in police custody.

I will try to keep tabs on sports media coverage of events in the city during the day.

In the mean time, a few worthwhile pieces of commentary on unfolding developments there.

1) Ta-Nehisi Coates says that under the circumstances, with police imposing a reign of fear and violence on the city’s black residents, pleas for calm and order are a sucker’s bet.

2) John Angelos, the Orioles’ COO and son of owner Peter Angelos, launched a righteous twitter screed on Sunday. Angelos was responding to the handwringing of a WBAL broadcaster, over property damage inflicted by protesters near Camden Yards. Deadspin’s Tom Ley condensed the tweets for readability.

While endorsing the call for peaceful protests, Angelos opined:

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts group but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the US to 3rd world dictatorships like China and others plunged tens of millions of good hard working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, an ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US and while we are thankful no on was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights and this makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

3) My old friend Chuck Modiano tweeted out a link to a 2012 piece he wrote about rioting and property damage in the wake of the Kentucky Wildcats’ national championship win that April. Modiano noted, among other things, the way coverage of riots by predominantly white fans – “joyful mayhem” – differ from protests mostly involving African Americans.

4) Zirin, who once said that “the building of publicly funded stadiums has become a substitute for anything resembling an urban policy,” writes about the reality that Camden Yards and the nostalgic turn in stadium construction obscures:

Camden Yards is universally recognized as a terrific place to watch a baseball game. It was also the first of a wave of publicly funded urban old-timey ballparks that sprouted in cities throughout the 1990s. These extremely lucrative stadiums were aimed at aligning baseball commercially with nostalgia for the glorious past of the sport. As baseball fanatic Chris Rock recently pointed out, MLB’s fetishizing of its history over the last thirty years has paralleled a steep decline in popularity within the black community, and this is more than incidental. As Rock said, “Every team is building up bullshit fake antique stadiums that are supposed to remind you of the good old days. You know the good old days. Ruth, DiMaggio … Emmett Till.”

Camden Yards received a significant taxpayer handout in part because the team and developers promised it would improve economic activity in its impoverished environs. Those benefits, according to every independent assessment, have failed to materialize.

5) Finally, for now, reposting here something I wrote for Huffington Post last summer, about metastasizing American police state(s).


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