Baltimore Burns – The Morning After

Baltimore – Special for News Talk Florida – The sun has come up this morning over Baltimore and people are getting back to work , as best they can. There are National Guard, Maryland State Police and City of Baltimore Police are out in force as people try evaluate the damage less than 24 hours after the worst rioting the city has seen since the day Dr. Martin Luther King was shot back in 1968.

Monday’s act of lawlessness in Baltimore had nothing to do with a week’s worth of mostly peaceful protests after the death of 25 year old Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in police custody. At this time investigations are being conducted by the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland and the United States Justice Department.

Yesterday, on the day when Gray was buried, his family had asked for a day of peace, a day without protest, a day where the city could heal. But a group of young people made the choice to vent their anger of the Baltimore Police by creating chaos.

The entire riot began through social media, Facebook and Twitter over this past weekend as young adults were being invited to be part of a purge. The concept was based on the popular movie, “The Purge” which  is about a dystopian society in which all laws are suspended for one 24-hour period every year.

It was the idea of suspending the law that caused the riot and gave many young angry people the feeling that by destroying their own neighborhoods they would be helping advance their cause and showcase their disdain for law enforcement.

From 3 p.m. yesterday till well after midnight the eyes of the world were on Baltimore as thousands of high school and college age students started an all out assault on the city. It escalated from rock throwing, to destroying police cars, to looting and finally to setting fires that burned down buildings both commercial as well as abandon in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Among the buildings destroyed was a CVS Pharmacy, a store that the neighborhood had worked long and hard to get. It is a vital part of the neighborhood, a place where the elderly, could walk to, allowing them to fill their prescriptions, now they will have to take the bus at an added cost to get their much needed medicine. Gone is new housing complex  that a local Baptist church was in the process of building for the elderly.

Looters took advantage of Mondawmin Mall, the crown jewel of the neighborhood, a place that showed that the area of Northwest Baltimore was on the rebound. Many smaller, mom and pop shops were looted, all were locally owned by hard working members of the Baltimore black community.

There will be jobs lost and the economic impact for some of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods is in the millions. Some family business’s may never return to the neighborhood due to Monday night’s “purge.”

The mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has issued a city wide curfew for the rest of the week that in essence shuts down Baltimore after 10 p.m. for everyone except those who have to work. Meanwhile, d Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, declared Baltimore to be in a state of emergency and called in the National Guard.

Both Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Gov. Hogan hope that the presence of nearly 10,000 officers on the city streets will put an end to the lawlessness.

Baltimore is a city made up of many different ethnic neighborhoods from “Little Italy to Greektown,” the city has a great deal of civic pride. A quick check of social media shows that support for Charm City is coming from all over the country and the world. Keep a lookout for #BMore, you will see that one very bad day is not going to define this city.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.