The events surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man in Baltimore, Maryland who died after his spine was severed while in police custody have rocked the nation’s headlines. All over social media, reactions could be found not only to Gray’s death, but to the ensuing protests and riots that followed after clashes with Baltimore police as well. The Political Garbage Chute sent out a call to freelance reporters in California, Wyoming, Alabama, New York and Maryland to interview every day Americans in their own environments about the circumstances in Baltimore.
Here are some of the reactions our freelance reporters got.
Roger W., 63 years old (Ft. Allen, WY): I think it’s just terrible. Who do these thugs think they are, rioting like this? I don’t care how many times unarmed black men have died at the hands of cops that are clearly clueless as to how due process works. You can’t go destroying property you don’t own just because it has happened dozens of times and society in general seems to just shrug it off after being outraged for a minute or two, if that!
Betty L., 43 years old (Hampton Falls, NY): I just don’t get it. What do these impoverished black people have to complain about besides systemic poverty exacerbated by systemic, invisible racism that works by keeping voters focused on what’s happening at the top of the tax code instead of who is being buried at the bottom of it?
Samuel T., 40 years old (Los Angeles, CA): What, are they still angry about slavery? That was outlawed 150 years ago! And sure, maybe for the next hundred years there were sharecropping and Jim Crow and lynchings. And sure, racism was so entrenched in the south that an actual law had to be passed that forbade people from being denied just the simple right to vote, but none of that happened to the young people rioting! Just to their grandparents and great-grandparents!
Susan Z., 56 years old (Douglass, AL): I get how you’d be angry about being poor and I even get how slavery and all that other stuff would piss someone off, but I didn’t own any slaves! All I ever do is vote for Republican candidates who convince me it’s the fault of the people born into poverty with no clear direction out of it who are the greedy and selfish ones, and not the super-duper rich, white elite power mongers who could shart enough money into their silk boxers to buy a few homes for truly indigent. So how can you say in any way I have contributed to not fixing the problem, or even made it worse?
Jack R., 32 years old (Hampton Falls, NY): What really chaps my hide is that these dummies weren’t even rioting for the right reasons. Baltimore hasn’t had a championship sports team since the Ravens won the Super Bowl! Everyone knows the only acceptable time to riot is when your sports franchise wins the big game or series, not when you’ve had it up to your eyeballs with an endemic culture of repression and apathy.
Richard Q., 48 years old (Los Angeles, CA): I just don’t get why these violent criminals don’t understand you’re only allowed to be hostile toward law enforcement agencies if you’re old, white, live in Nevada on a ranch and want to mooch off other cattle ranchers who actually do pay their grazing fees. If you want to threaten cops, do it by pointing a high-powered rifle at them from a distance, not by hurling rocks and sticks at people with full riot gear and military-grade equipment!
Sally M., 59 years old (Douglass,AL): I’m really upset that I didn’t get to finish watching “Real Housewives of Idaho,” and instead was interrupted from white, middle-class coma just long enough to be burdened with thoughts of empathy and sadness for a populace that feels trapped and penned-in by the very people who are supposed to be helping them lift themselves out of poverty in the first place. I’m an American, damnit, I don’t want to care, and that’s my American, God-given, ammo-hoarding right!
Dave D., 52 years old (San Diego, CA): Sure, every other day now we’re hearing stories of white cops killing unarmed black men. Sure, whites outnumber blacks in this country by just about 5-to-1. Sure, it would then stand to reason that we should by the very math of it all be hearing about five times as many stories of unarmed white men being shot. And yes, to turn a blind eye to that fact is to buy into the idiotic and transparently racist belief that black people literally just are more criminally-inclined than white people by their very nature. And sure, that smells like utter bullshit, and it is, but still…um. Wait. What was I saying?