The eyes of the world are on Baltimore as a weekend of protests erupted into civil unrest following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury while in police custody on April 12, last night. Now the city is under curfew and the National Guard has been brought in, leaving the citizens of Baltimore to sort out the conflicting viewpoints and complex issues that sparked yesterday’s events.
One of those citizens is David Simon, who spent years reporting on the city for The Baltimore Sun, collecting his observations in the book that would inspire Homicide: Life On The Streets and distilling them into the HBO series The Corner and The Wire. Late last night, Simon posted his thoughts on the situation in Baltimore on his personal website, The Audacity Of Despair, then appears to have spent the entire night engaging commenters in debate. With 471 comments as of this writing, there are too many to summarize here, but you can read the discussion in full on Simon’s blog. The full text of Simon’s original post is below.
First things first.
Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed. And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city. Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard. All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets.
But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease. There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today. But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death.
If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please.