Officers in Downtown Baltimore took position on many corners as the sun came up Tuesday morning following a night of violent unrest that led to a state of emergency and the activation of the National Guard by the Maryland governor. Thousands of schoolkids won't be in public school as a mass of officers and National Guard troops spread over the 80-square-mile area here with many concerned with a repeat of Monday evening. A city curfew will go into effect tonight at 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., and will be in effect for a week, and extended as necessary.
Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and "nonviolent." These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it's worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray. An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead. What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?