Hi Justin,

I don't necessarily agree with everything you said, but this is a pretty strong argument. Yes, the riot is the language of the unheard, and I would call it an uprising rather than a riot, but what's happening in Minneapolis is awfully reminiscent of what happened in Baltimore five years ago.

Fast track to 2020, and Baltimore is ostensibly struggling a lot more than it was five years ago. Instead of police resorting to strong-arm measures and "thug policing" that doesn't value black lives, they have swung the opposite manner and have just sat in radio cars all day, and resorted to no policing. It's quite common to drive through North Avenue, like I do on my daily commute, and see the same officers camped out in their cars all day, not doing anything. The City has seen over 300 murders since the Freddie Gray uprising, and it's clear that the police would rather do nothing at times than risk getting in trouble, which seems cowardly, but after knowing some officers in the City seems like a valid concern.

I fear that Minneapolis is headed down the same road. As awful as the video of Derek Chauvin putting his knee on George Floyd's windpipe and suffocating him to death was, the problem is much, much bigger than the policing. You can eliminate police brutality and a lot of the same problems will still be there.

I find it hypocritical that the mayor of Minneapolis is denouncing the police for their actions. Who does the police department answer to, after all? The mayor. The problems are clearly bigger than policing and even politics, and the uprising goes to show that just eliminating police brutality doesn't go to solve a city's problems, nor does replacing the mayor. Just look at what Baltimore has gone through the past five years.

It's the long history of segregation and disinvestment that have dug the hole and led America to give up on our cities a very long time ago. I once asked my students in Baltimore, in an all-black summer school classroom, whether they believed aggressive policing was worse than what is happening on Baltimore's streets now, and the responses genuinely surprised me. My students, like students everywhere, exhibited a vast diversity of opinions.

One kid said that he'd rather be locked up than murdered.

Another disagreed with the aggressive policing, but didn't see a good alternative.

There are no easy answers, and while police brutality is bad, just getting rid of it is not a panacea. The police answer to politicians and the mayor. The mayor answers to someone above, and someone above answers to someone above.

The system itself caused these cops to be trained the way they did and have the culture of brutality they had. There's no question that they deserve to be accountable, but will the police being accountable fix the core of what's going on in Minneapolis, once the news aren't focused on the "riots", once the cameras go away?

If Baltimore is any indication, then the answer is no. Once people stop paying attention, the police will be too scared to do anything. Politicians and police commissioners will turn over faster than the wheel of your fastest sports car because the problem is so deeply rooted that there was nothing they could do to fix it.

And yes, Minneapolis will be a different, but will it be better? I hope so -- but that's all a lot of us can do, hope that it doesn’t leave the city abandoned by people in power like in Baltimore, but restored.

Written by

Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire,” God’s gift to the Earth. E-mail: ryanfan17@gmail.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store