What has sadly become a trend in the United States, on a young man by the name of Freddie Gray—aged 25—has met an end similar to Michael Brown and Eric Garner when coming into contact with Law Enforcement and happening to be Black Americans.
But why should Black Live Matters be an issue for Latinos as well? Because when an issue plagues and threatens one community it threatens us all.
On April 12 in Baltimore, Maryland, Gray was approached by Baltimore Police Officers who allegedly discovered a switchblade in his possession and had arrested him. However, the arrest was not a peaceful one. According to witnesses—and video released later on— Police officers are believed to have used excessive force on Gray that led to him suffering injuries to spinal cord and larynx.
The injuries Gray endured were so severe he fell into a coma and died on April 19.
Later on, in a statement about Gray’s arrest Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said how Baltimore Police Officers, “failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times,” while in custody and Batts acknowledged that the arrest itself did not follow police procedure especially when Gray was being transported to the police station.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, due to the circumstances of Gray’s arrest and subsequent death they have decided to open an investigation into the case.
In-response to Gray shocking death, on April 25, 2015 the Black Community—and the community at large—took to the street in Baltimore to protest against the continued treatment of members of the Black community when encountering members of law enforcement. The protests continue the recent anthem that’s become predominant in the states since late last year, “Black Live Matter.”
But sadly, when intense emotion excited by a threatening presence of armored-police officers are tossed into the mix the peaceful protesting turned into riots. After Gray’s funeral of Gray, riots intensified with an estimated 34 people being arrest, 15 police officers injured, and two patrol cars destroyed. During the riots, protesters have allegedly looted and burned down a CVS Pharmacy in the downtown area of Baltimore.
While the act of violence should never be condoned, or the death of someone should be taken as a chance to achieve personal gain, is it any shock that a community that has lived in complete unrest and fear due to the color of skin may have a few youth—and some older—turning to violence?
Civil unrest comes in many forms: from hunger strikes, to marches, and sadly it leads to riots as well. But it shouldn’t have to get to that point. You can only tolerate the sense of fear so long before it is standing at your door.
How do you prevent such incidents like the death of Gray, Brown, Garner, or the countless others who’ve come into contact with law enforcement? You change the social acceptance that one is above the other simply because of the color of skin or the social status of their world. In order to do that there must be discussion and understanding no matter how intense or hot an issue may be.
If not, we can expect more deaths and more rioting and continued living in unrest for Black & Latino lives.