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Bringing the Crisis to a Head in Baltimore


Bringing the Crisis to a Head in Baltimore

Glen Ford

The only thing that can work to fundamentally change the system for Black people – whether in the 21st century or the Sixties – is mass organization for popular empowerment.”


" Mass organization for popular empowerment."

As usual, Glen is right on target. The Black Panthers tried this back in the sixties and they did not succeed but maybe some restructure of that movement might work to give Black people more empowerment.


“… the Mass Black Incarceration State that has been imposed over the past 45 years…”

Ford’s “45 years” takes us back to 1970, and presumably references the launch of the modern “War on Drugs” under the Nixon administration.

Will the hippies, libertarians, health care providers and young entrepreneurs who have pushed marijuana legalization, get on board with a broader understanding of the deep racist roots of the War on Drugs, and support the youth in the streets this summer?


So, what’s the message behind showing a picture where most of the people are not black? Baltimore is about a particular community that protested a particular killing that they believe was unjustified. Period. We have seen this issue wildly exploited, re-spun via media to suit different purposes, usually in ways that only more deeply divide those would otherwise have united to force real change.

Baltimore: Six cops were accused of killing Freddie Gray. Three of those cops are black.That’s a problem. When liberals try to put a socioeconomic spin on this, its about a shortage of jobs for young black men. Well damn, there’s a shortage of jobs, period. Something middle classers might not know: America has a poverty crisis. Not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren’t jobs for all who need one. The US shipped out a massive number of jobs since the 1980s, and ended actual welfare in the 1990s. The great majority of US poor are white. Most live/survive outside the major cities. As for those in the cities, it has virtually been “open season” on our homeless poor for years, as they’ve been beaten or killed by citizens and police alike. There are no protests, no 24/7 cable coverage, no interest.


You write that the great majority of US poor are white. The majority of the US population is white. Are you saying that (I haven’t researched it yet), there is more poverty among whites per capita of the population than black/brown? I seriously doubt that, but as I said, I haven’t researched it yet.

I’d disagree that Baltimore is about a particular community protesting a particular killing. After several recent police killings of black citizens in different locales, I think that Baltimore is more than that (not to diminish the murder of Freddy Gray, the spark that ignited the Baltimore protests)–it is a continuation of protests around the country regarding the lack of value of black lives by police in the US.

I don’t understand your problem with the photo of a majority of white protesters that accompanies the article. We’ve all seen the photos of black protesters in Baltimore. Personally, I was heartened to see that there are white citizens in Baltimore who are in the streets as well, over the disregard for black lives by Baltimore police.

I don’t watch/listen to network news, but I do know that the homeless man (white) who was recently murdered by police in Albuquerque, was given just as much coverage in the alternative media as the recent police killings of black men. As far as I know, there were no demonstrations in Albuquerque, which has a large, perhaps majority, Hispanic population, over that death–so you are blaming brown(Hispanic) people, with their own ugly history of discrimination (and land theft from Mexico) in the US, for not protesting the murder of a white homeless man? BTW, I know, although I can’t cite anything at the moment, that I have read of other police killings of the homeless in the alternative media.

Finally, in your posts, you often write of “libs” and the “lib media”. I have no idea what those terms mean, as liberalism these days is a poisoned term, one used to discredit the left --it certainly doesn’t apply to me, or to most people who consider themselves leftists.


No. Black people are disproportionately poor, and the majority of US poor are white because they make up the largest portion of the population. (In other words, poverty is a critical American issue.) So much work has gone into pitting the poor against each other by race to prevent a united push-back. Specifically on the killing of Freddy Gray, what has bothered me is the way that much of the media have reported this, seemingly to minimize what has been happening in the US. “Don’t worry, middle class America. This is an isolated case, concerning something that will never personally effect you.”

I’m in agreement with much that you write; you express your ideas better than I’m able to do. I didn’t have a problem with the photo. In fact, my first response was positive, but then I wondered why the photographer made that choice if the majority of protesters were black. Well, you provided the answer.

I’ve come across very little media coverage of attacks on the homeless poor. My point was that while liberals occasionally note a police killing of a black man, they have had no interest in similar killings of homeless people. Poor people aren’t popular among libs today, I guess. Liberal media (with perhaps MSNBC taking the lead) have been so focused on appealing to the middle class that they have ignored our poverty crisis, and the routine abuses of our desperately poor.

I do use the terms “libs” and “liberal media” disparagingly, referring to the media (again, like MSNBC) that have spent years merely maintaining a pep rally for middle class consumers and campaign donors. I’m on the left, and see very little connection between libs and the left. Right now, liberal media are in overdrive to try to sell Hillary Clinton, arguably the most right-wing person in modern history to run on the Dem party ticket. My gosh, on social/economic issues, Clinton is actually to the right of former Republican presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and even Reagan! America does have a left, but their voices have been drown out by the right wing of the Democrats, and the media that represents them.


Thank you for your thoughtful reply. First off, I have to say that I admire your fortitude in being able to watch the corporate media–I’d be bald from tearing my hair out, and hoarse from yelling, if I were to watch it. Democracy Now, RT and Al Jazeera constitute the extent of my viewing pleasure. Hence I can’t really speak to what the corporate media is covering, but as to your point about “liberals” being unconcerned with poor and/or black people, it seems to me that that has always been true, of whatever segment of the population, not just liberals; it’s a mechanism of control to keep people separated by whatever means necessary, and the poor of whatever color/race are easy targets–you know, we have always heard that people are only poor because they are lazy, and that crap about pulling oneself up by your bootstraps, blah, blah.

You are right that those who see themselves as middle class are being propagandized by the media to ignore the race to the bottom that is occurring in the US–if they don’t become aware of it, or are not personally affected by it, then they won’t be inclined to try to remedy it. It has become the role of the US media to keep them ignorant–an informed populace is a danger to those in power, so the media is spouting whatever the powers-that-be in DC want them to say. Black intellectuals such as Cornel West, and the folks at blackagendareports, to name two, are often critical of Obama for what they see as his indifference to the plight of the poor. The media reflects Obama’s attitude (and those of others in power) in its coverage–it has taken on a mere stenographic role in that respect.

I’m in total agreement with you about H Clinton, and think she’d have disastrous foreign policies–that’s what terrifies me most. Agree also that today’s Democratic party is far to the right of either Eisenhower or Nixon, neither of whom could be elected as a Democrat these days because they’d be considered too far to the left. Nixon had a plan for universal health care–imagine that.

For what it’s worth, I think you do well at expressing yourself. One of the reasons I come to CD is to read the well-thought-out, and well-stated, opinions of other posters. As has been said by others, sometimes you learn more from the comments than from the articles themselves.


Please don’t refer to the protesters, even violent ones, as “thugs”. The real thugs in Baltimore are wearing uniforms.

Most cops will not, directly, beat up or kill an person for no reason and then lie about the victim. But nearly all of them will stand behind those that do, and that is enough to merit the title of “thug”.

The exceptions, those that won’t support the others’ crimes, are the few that deserve the honorable title of “police officer”.