I've been on 'holiday' in Greece for a week, and the only English network available at the hotel....was CNN. Naturally, the Baltimore riots are just about the only thing that CNN covered beyond the Nepal earthquake. So, I sat and watched report after report. After a while, you turn off the TV and you ponder. Observations occur.
First, these are basically two-star hoodlums. We have them in Germany and England as well. They come out.....get active for a couple of days....burn off steam....destroy police vehicles....engage with intent to harm the cops....destroy public and private property.....pretend to have some agenda but it rarely says much of anything....and then retreat into the shadows.
Second, hoodlums can be of limited varieties. If you look around.....you rarely find any Latino hoodlums. The days of religious hoodlums ended around 1700 (after the Thirty Years War). These days, the hoodlum trade is made up of blacks and anti-capitalists. Women rarely fall into the hoodlum profession. I'm not sure why.....maybe they've got other priorities in life....demand nearby toilet services which never occur for a proper riot.....or just think it's stupid to destroy property. Based on video of the Baltimore riots.....I'd take a guess that it's ninety-percent male. I also noted that you just didn't see any guy over the age of forty, which is typical of most Germany hoodlum events.
Third, hoodlum riots can start up because of a good martyr situation. Most folks can't define martyr.....so I'll give you the simple basic wording: a guy who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and met up with a misfortune act.....which usually leads to death by the authorities or cops. The dead guy then becomes a symbol for the hoodlums.....who can base their violent acts on the poor martyr guy.
Some famous martyrs? Athanasios Diakos (famous Greek martyr from 1821 who was killed by the Turks. He'd been offered various deals to just surrender and he refused.....noting at the end that he was Greek and would forever be Greek), Socrates (he made some unfortunate negative comments against the Gods, thus showing disrespect, and the authorities had to make the religious guys happy by killing Socrates....note: Socrates drank the poison willingly to demonstrate principal), and Joan of Arc (leading the French army onto victory but turned into a problem for the Catholic Church).
These recent martyrs within the last couple of years? Trayvon Martin. He's the kid who was suspended five times from school for unknown activities, a problem-kid who'd been sent to live with dad, who encountered some "white-Latino" and some conflict occurred, with Martin ending up on top of the white-Latino in an assault type position, then shot dead.
Micheal Brown? Another kid who seemed to have money for marijuana but not enough money for cigars which had to shoplift and steal from some grocery. Upon leaving the grocery and walking home......he and his associate decide to walk down the middle of some street (on the line), encounter one cop, engage in a short discussion, determines the cop disrespected him, and joins into some type of episode where the cop shoots him in the back. Oddly, the autopsy shows Brown standing in front of the cop and in a higher position very close to the cop.
Eric Garner? A guy whose entire profession of supporting his family is to sell loose and untaxed New York City smokes. Arrested on numerous occasions for the same type charge.....for some odd reason stood his ground and refused to be arrested peacefully (there's even another charge for disrespecting a cops arrest but why even bring that up). The cop puts a choke-hold on the guy....rather than tasering him. The fact that Garner was not in fabulously great health should be part of the story, but it's kinda left out.
Freddie Gray? A guy who got a check each month for a lead-paint episode as a kid. Freddie had almost twenty arrests.....mostly for drugs. His health? He had asthma.....which might be linked back to the lead-paint business. On his final day of life, his martyrdom starts with Freddie in a drug-purchase area when the cops do a sweep. Freddie runs.....gets arrested....tossed into the back of a holding vehicle.....has a asthma attack and asks for his inhaler. The cops don't say much but apparently Freddie doesn't get his inhaler, goes into convulsions in the back (either from the asthma or the drug he ingested). Freddie knocks himself around, suffers spinal injuries, and dies.
It's hard to make a real martyr out of these four guys, but for the sake of the argument.....they will serve some purpose. Perhaps like Joan of Arc or any number of a dozen Greek martyrs.....each will get a statue some day.
Third, the cops. In 1965.....a cop had four potential threats of a marginal nature to face each day. Drunks? They were typically friendly and cops on some occasions would just drive the drunk home (we were actually that friendly at one point). The weed smokers? These were the guys who just wanted to talk and talk and talk. Cops would just toss them into the tank and let the court system work as intended. The crazies? Cops were a bit worried over them because you just couldn't be sure of the end-game. Finally, the crook? Yeah, these were guys who'd rob a gas station for a hundred bucks.
Today? The cop has a strange element that arrived in the 1980s.....drugs. Between PCP, meth, bath salts, cocaine, and a hundred-odd drugs....you sit there as a cop each day and review your reaction situations if "X" occurs or if you engage some whacko with a machete on PCP. Just because he's doped up......he's a potential martyr. Hundreds will riot because of the death of a whacko on PCP and waving a machete in the air. That's how silly and how disturbing all of this has become.
The new cops of today? They look more like military MPs than regular cops. They can't behave or act like Andy Griffith of Mayberry because they'd be dead within the first year of employment.
Finally, I come to Baltimore. You can draw a six-block circle with a green marker on the area around the harbor and the baseball stadium.....that's the only safe place in Baltimore for you as a tourist. If you go anywhere else in the city.....it's dangerous. Drugs? You can buy any drug you want....even LSD and heron. The city leadership? They concentrate on the protected area near the harbor and sell convention opportunities at the nice hotels around the harbor. Ever since drugs arrived in the 1980s....the city leadership has staged a weekly round-up of drug thugs as their gimmick of choice......showing they have control, when they don't have control.
How many companies have made a decision to set up shop in Baltimore in the past decade? Few if any. Heading further west.....a hundred miles.....it's a different story, with various companies setting up shop and doing business in DC. Baltimore as a city....is dying. The remaining cops will protect the green-zone, and try to fake the public enough into believing it's still a legitimate city (it's not).
The mayor of Baltimore? She was on some fast-riser list and would have gone onto some senator status quickly, and maybe within ten years been on someone's presidential candidate list. Her actions over the past week? Probably enough to stall those plans.
To sum it all up.....we've arrived in a new world where hoodlums, martyrs, and thugs are part of the society. To be honest....the modern martyrs are fakes but that's our own undoing. The icing on this cake is an active news media which turns some hoodlum episode into an epic news piece.....kinda like a Greek opera with numerous characters and some fat lady singing a woeful song near the end. And we treat it like entertainment (something that Socrates would just shake his head over).