State of emergency
Baltimore descended into chaos as protestors took to the streets following the funeral of Freddie Gray, an African American who died of a spinal injury in police custody. Maryland declared a state of emergency as residents looted businesses, set fire to stores and cars, and attacked police officers.
And while Gray’s death was the catalyst, tensions between police and Baltimore residents have simmering for a long time.
Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele told Morning Joe that tensions have been building for some time. “The trigger is obviously the death of Freddie Gray, but there are systemic issues there that touch into poverty and education, jobs, and neighborhoods that have been blighted for 30-40 years,” he explained. “The political leadership has failed, the business leadership has failed, and the community is frustrated”.
Fifty years of not getting it right
Joe called it a complete and total failure of public policy over the past half century.
There are still some areas of Baltimore that haven’t recovered from riots in the 1960’s and the recovery from this latest incident could also be difficult.
“In many ways, we are watching the effects of what’s happened decades before playing out right now,” said Wes Moore, a US Army veteran and Baltimore native. Moore also told the panel that over half of African American men who live in Baltimore are unemployed. “If you don’t address those issues, we will continue to see these types of heartbreaking activities take place in our communities,” he said.