What’s happening in Baltimore…it’s a tough situation. It’s a tough situation on both sides, but I just don’t condone tearing up your own city to get your point across. I don’t condone that. But I feel the frustration. And I think frustration escalates when people feel that they are not being listened to and not being heard. They are demonstrating because they feel they are being ignored.
I think the riots have superseded the initial Freddie Gray story, which is unfortunate, because a very young man lost his life. At the end of the day, that’s sad. I’ve heard his family say that’s not what he would have wanted. It’s just sad, on so many fronts, that it had to come to this.
Baltimore is a very poor city, a predominantly black city. I stayed there in 2006 and it also reminds me of my where I grew up in Gary, Indiana. I can’t imagine burning down or looting the corner store in Gary. That was my livelihood. We didn’t have a car, so we couldn’t travel 2-3 miles to get our groceries, and that store was imperative for our survival. I can’t imagine burning down something in my city, especially something that I use on a regular basis.
I do get that many people from the inner city, where young African-American teenagers feel they have been profiled, are frustrated. And through peaceful demonstrations, I feel people deserve to be heard. We have to come to some kind of common ground because we have to live here together. Why wouldn’t you want to live in peace?
I think the kids in Baltimore need to let community leaders and adults handle the situation. I think it’s a situation where the kids don’t necessarily understand what it means to have a peaceful demonstration. Our younger generation thinks that if they are going to be heard, then burning or tearing something down is what they have to do to get their point across. I don’t think that gets your voice heard. They need to learn they can talk to people. We need to be able to sit down and talk to people. Being heard shouldn’t have to be a fight and a struggle.
The police need to have a better relationship with the inner city, and I know the struggles that lie within the inner city. My cousin, a police chief in Indianapolis, worked in Baltimore for almost 30 years on the police force, so I can really see both sides of this. I was telling my wife the other day, “I know what’s wrong with people today. They watch too much television.” People see CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and all these crime scene shows and think that an investigation happens overnight. And it doesn’t work that way! You want it done right; there is no in-between for law enforcement. I know law enforcement does a lot of good in this world because without the police there would be chaos. Just like anything else, you have your bad police, and you have your great police. When a police officer does something great, they should be recognized for it. In this day and age, they are only recognized when they do something bad. I don’t think that’s fair to their job. They put their lives on the line every day.
I have a lot of friends in the media. If there is one thing I know it’s that they have a job to do. Good, bad, or indifferent, they have to report on what they see, or what they’re told. I get that. But there were a lot of positive things that they didn’t show or continue to run this week. You only saw the burning of the CVS or the Mom beating on her son. I think I saw one stretch on Thursday where they interviewed an 8-year-old kid helping clean up the debris that was outside the CVS. That interview should have been shown around the world continuously, but the media doesn’t work like that.
Here’s an example: MLB Network and ESPN ran the Royals-White Sox fight a bunch of times. The very next day, a couple of high school teams in California got into a big old brawl. And the umpire suspended both teams, kicked out every player on both teams. So I know the media has a job to do, but they sensationalize it to the point that they spin it into more of a negative than what it is.
Bottom line, I think we need to do a better job as a society loving each other, respecting each other and respecting each other’s history. We have to come to a point where we can all talk and resolve our issues through talking. Communication. Everything doesn’t have to be a fight.
I just wish they’d find out what happened to the young man so that the Gray family gets some closure. Hopefully one day in our lifetime we never have to see this happen in the United States again. It’s happened way too often the last couple of years. Way too often.