A 25 year old man, Freddie Gray, was arrested (for what?), and died after being transported to booking from a severed spine (how did that happen?).
From the New York Times:
The unemployment rate in the community where Mr. Gray lived is over 50
percent; the high school student absence rate hovers at 49.3 percent;
and life expectancy tops out at 68.8 years, according to analysis by prison reform nonprofits.
These statistics are a small glimpse of the radical inequality that
blankets poor black Baltimore. It’s no wonder that black Baltimore
erupted in social fury. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. announced
in the wake of the Watts riots 50 years ago, “a riot is the language of
the unheard.” And judging by the actions in Baltimore, thousands are
not being heard.
The Inner Harbor in Baltimore is a great place to live and visit....for tourists and upperly mobile people. The rest of Baltimore is very different.
Baltimore, then, is like so many other cities with their own Freddie
Grays: a place in which private capital has left enormous sections of
the city to rot, where a chasm separates the life chances of black and
white residents — and where cops brutally patrol a “disposable” population.
Yesterday’s uprising occurred the same day Gray, the
twenty-five-year-old whose spine was almost completely severed while in
police custody, was laid to rest. Protests haven’t ceased since his
April 19 death. (see link)
Baltimore is a city left behind by globalization (see link).
Between 1970 and 1980, the city's population dropped from 906,000 to 787,000. By 2010, Census data showed there were just 620,961 residents in Baltimore. As factory jobs moved overseas, most of the opportunities for employment that replaced them did not pay very well.
A 2012 Brookings study
found that jobs in low-paying industries like food service grew by more
than 60 percent in Baltimore from 1980 to 2007. Meanwhile, jobs in
high-wage industries increased by only 10 percent.
attrition of jobs that paid a decent wage rendered Baltimore
particularly vulnerable to the drug trade, which has become almost
synonymous with the city thanks to media depictions like HBO's "The
Wire." Starting in the late 1970s,
drug kingpins began recruiting children and teenagers -- who, if
caught, could usually escape the criminal justice system more easily and
more cheaply than adults -- to aid with the day-to-day business of
selling illicit substances. For many young people, the drug trade
offered much more lucrative possibilities than the weak local economy.
Compounding all these issues has been the subprime crisis of the past several years. Predatory lenders allegedly targeted black communities in Baltimore,
steering people into untenable, high-interest mortgages that would
eventually wipe out their wealth and leave the city riddled with foreclosed and vacant homes. A
damaged economy, high levels of crime, little opportunity to achieve
something better: That's the context Freddie Gray lived in his whole
life. In Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood where Gray grew
up, the unemployment rate is 1 in 5, about twice as high as the city
average, according to a Baltimore City Health Department report cited by Slate.
Can the United States still be a place of opportunity and justice?