YOUTH Voice: Baltimore Riots

By Kelly Mulrooney

23 years ago, on April 29, the citizens of Los Angeles began protesting the incurable and copious amounts of police brutality directed towards African Americans after the police savagely beat Rodney King. The riots were not only a reaction to the treatment of King, but also a retaliation to the acquittal of the policemen on trial for abusing him. The racially charged cruelty towards Blacks was not and is not an infrequent occurrence. On April 27, 2015, Baltimore detonated with outrage over the death of another undeserving African American male at the hands of police officers.

Freddie Gray's story parallels King after almost 20 years; another African American male who fell victim to police brutality, his experience exposing the inequality in America and lack of progress made regarding equity in race relations. Police racially profile African American males as “th*gs” and use it as justification to treat them like animals. It was only a matter of time before America erupted like this. America cannot expect an entire race of people who are unjustly oppressed and mistreated to accept status as secondary citizens. The protests in Baltimore are retaliations to eradicate the ceaseless suffering of African Americans inflicted by law enforcers.

So far this year police officers have murdered 225 African Americans, and the number will continue to increase unless actions are taken to shake America out of its trend of permissibility and apathy. There is an immense and noxious disconnect between those who concede the perpetual oppression of African Americans and those in denial of the atrocities occurring in our own backyard. The protests in Baltimore are the manifestation of the cycle of oppression unjustifiably faced by African Americans. America is quick to condemn the actions taken to spark the change needed to create equity in America by calling them hyperbolic and believing it is only about Freddie Gray. We are acknowledging the systemic persecution of a race, but denying the fact that these protests are about structural racism.

The media has altered the entirety of the situation in Baltimore and turned it into a way to oppress, criminalize and stereotype African Americans further. The media villainizes the scorned protesters, calling them “th*gs” and inviting disconnected White America to judge and make assumptions about the demonstrators. In an extreme case, Fox News was found using photos from the Argentine Revolution and claiming them to be from Baltimore. By reporting fallacious news like this, stations are trivializing the legitimate importance of the reasoning behind the riots. America’s news stations are notorious for maligning African Americans; they perpetuate stereotypes and distract viewers from the real issue that is the marginalization of African Americans. The photo shown below was one of the popularized photos by the media, meant to make Mike Brown appear as a"th*g."

The image below is an empowered, representative picture of Mike Brown that would have better served Michael and the Brown family.
*** "th*gs" has now become a word used to oppress and stereotype African Americans as criminals, perpetuated by news stations particularly***

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