Monday, April 27, 2015

Racists discredit Freddy Gray to Justify his Death in Police Custody

Freddy Gray
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

It sickens me at times to read some of the comments that lie beneath articles or videos on the Internet.  We are all seeing the response to the killing of Freddie Gray by cops in Baltimore.  Gray died one week after being arrested and transported in a van by the cops.  The van stopped three times on the way to the police station, twice to deal with Gray and once to pick up another prisoner. Gray asked for a medic during the trip and eventually died of severe spinal injuries a week after the incident.

It is possible the cops took Gray on a “Rough Ride” as they have been known to do this before and the city of Baltimore has been sued for this activity, police thugs having some fun with poor people.

Naturally, I watched some of the scenes of the protests and the media made sure that those that took to looting stores got a lot of media attention in order to discredit the protestors as well as the righteous anger the black community has over yet another young black life being snuffed out by murderous state security forces------the guardians of the wealthy and protectors of status quo.

The comments that make me the sickest and they almost always come from white people, those particular white folk who hide behind the cloak of “conservative views”  are quick to mention of Freddy Gray's  cocaine use or drug or petty crime convictions. It’s the same people who find pleasure in digging up a rape victim’s sexual history, who she slept with and how often. They despise the poor, white or black and generally hate labor and unions. You’d be more respected if you were honest about your real motives.

So Gray had a drug conviction.  Gray, like millions of black people, and more and more whites, was also the victim of the slumlords.  His family, like many others, was poor, lived in run down apartments and homes owned by rich landlords and their corporations. Both the young Freddie and his two sisters had lead poisoning and all three were born premature, “With so much of its housing stock predating laws banning lead in paint, Baltimore continues to wrestle with the after-effects on thousands of children who have inhaled or ingested the toxic metal.” The Baltimore Sun wrote.

Between the ages of 2 to 6, Gray lived in a "beat up" house, where on all the walls the paint was "peeling”, there was “peeling paint in every room”, the Sun adds. The slumlord and corporate boss, a Stanley Rochkind, was, “…fined $90,000 by the Maryland Department of the Environment as part of a consent agreement that required him to rid some 480 rental units in Baltimore of lead paint.” according to records. This situation is not an exception, it is the rule in the inner cities and in the poorer rural areas. We can spend trillions on predatory wars but cant' provide decent housing for people.  This, my friends, is not civilization.

The Baltimore Sun adds that,  “…blood tests conducted on the siblings as children that showed all of them had lead levels above the 10 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dL) that state law defines as the threshold for lead poisoning. (Experts say there are no safe levels of lead, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider anything above 5 mg/dL cause for concern.)”

As for Freddie, the paper states,  Freddie Gray, for example, was tested as having between 11 mg/dL and 19 mg/dL in six tests conducted between 1992 and 1996, court documents show.”

I was involved in renters’ struggles against a slumlord here in Oakland CA., a man much like Rochkind, this man was worth $40 million.  The one percent's media rarely, if ever takes its cameras in to the homes of the millions of victims of slumlords throughout the country. It certainly will not reveal the private lives of these characters like it does the poor. In this case, we appealed to the DA to arrest the slumlord and file charges, no such luck; we organized direct action protests at this slumlords home and businesses, and where he attended church.  The slumlords are not taken for ”rough rides” in the backs of police cars for providing rat holes for people to live in and getting rich off it. Just the opposite, the cops protect the slumlord.  The private sector can’t be relied on to provide housing for people, it never has and it never will.

And as for trying to paint all black males as drug dealers I can speak with some authority to that.  I was addicted to cocaine use for a period of 8 years in the late 1970’sand 80’s and I had access to very good quality stuff.  All the best stuff was provided by people with white faces and they were always men.  Most white men aren't dope dealers either. The real dope dealers, those who actually bring the stuff in to communities and the country have wealthy connections.  Pointing to Freddy Gray’s minor tussles with the law is an excuse, a cover for racial and working class bigotry and defense of the cops.  It fools no one. As I have pointed out many times before, the cops can make you a felon with the stroke of a pen and in the ghettos and among poor people in general, people of all ethnic backgrounds are literally in occupation zones, watched, hounded, harassed by the state security apparatus with the aim of maintaining the status quo.

And I have one more thing to say to these smug commentators beneath a story like Freddy Gray's or a video about the justifiable protests in response to it; where are you when the slumlord rakes in his dough?  And beyond this; where is your voice, your commentaries at the blatant racial bias in all aspects of US society?

Not long ago some right wing white skinned rural petty bourgeois wanted to avoid paying his dues by keeping his cattle on public land and not paying the required fees.  Him and other right wing characters organized and actually challenged the state.  They armed themselves with assault rifles and actually pointed them at federal Marshalls. The state backed down.

In Cleveland a black kid playing with a BB gun was shot without hesitation by a cop.  In South Carolina, Walter Scott was shot eight times and killed by a cop as he was running away.  There are too many cases that involve black people to mention, we've covered some of them on this blog, you’d have to be in a coma or a racist not to notice it. You are insulting people’s intelligence by offering a petty drug conviction of poor working class black youth as justification for his torture and murder by forces of the state. And buying the media propaganda about looting or not understanding the justifiable anger that leads to destruction of police cars or corporate property and instead condemning the victims is no different. The more white/European American workers, and Asian, and other workers that join the black population in protesting and organizing against these issues the more powerful the movement becomes and the less chance of sporadic destruction.   Organized workers' power and shutting down economic activity (profits) is what hurts the perpetrators of this madness.

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Anonymous said...

it's long past time for civil disobedience

Anonymous said...

The time passed long before this but the working class is lacking a leadership that can show a way out, this includes the black working class.