Baltimore riots: outsiders fail to see real issues at hand


Courtesy of MCT Campus

A Maryland Transit Authority patrol car burns at North and Pennsylvania Avenues on Monday, April 27, 2015, in Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

by Olivia Goldstein and Izzy Peterson

The circumstances surrounding the unrest in Baltimore have shaken the nation. Racial tension and police brutality caused protesters and troubled youth to take to the streets and riot after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a man who died while in police custody on April 19th. Instead helping to make a change in the city’s legislative flaws, some of these people’s actions have completely obliterated the purpose of peaceful protests.

Along with Ferguson, this event will go down in history books for future generations. Based on the hardships the people of Baltimore have been facing, not only over the past week but for years, you’d think the city’s recovery would be top priority for everyone, especially those in the surrounding areas. Sadly, this is not the case.

Many Maryland and Virginia schools experienced effects of the crisis but none worth crying about. While several field trips were canceled and prom venues moved, these “issues” are nothing in comparison to homes that have been burned, businesses looted, and lives that were threatened.

I was scheduled to go on a field trip and attend a Bad Suns concert last week, both of which were canceled. However, I’m not taking to twitter and complaining about how my day was ruined. The curfew has been designed to keep people safe and prevent anymore unrest, and I respect that.

Riot tweet 2

Many people have complained that it’s their senior year and prom is such a special moment but that’s all it is – a moment. The current circumstances in Baltimore are more than a moment. People’s lives and rights as human beings are at stake, as well as the places and jobs they need to get to on a daily basis.

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Harford County schools all canceled or postponed classes, proms, and field trips the last week of April and beginning of May. While these counties and their students and staff have worked hard to make prom night and school trips special, they are just trips and can easily be rescheduled or refunded. Though many students are grateful they are even having a prom at all, there will always be ignorant and self-centered complainers overlooking the real issues at hand.

Riot tweet

To say it’s unfair to have privileges disappear in the wake of these riots and the entire Freddie Gray ordeal is appalling and, frankly, disgusting. The fact that people are valuing a dance over human lives and welfare makes my faith in humanity wane.

You cannot say you have been wronged when your school-funded field trip has been canceled. Do not take your anger out on the people in Baltimore and the issues as if Baltimore is another world, not an extension of your own. This is more than idiot “thugs” looting and vandalizing a city for the sake of destruction. This is a situation involving civil rights. The tension has been building for years. This is a situation with multiple complex causes: poverty, racism, and gentrification among them.

Just because this puts people at an inconvenience doesn’t mean it gives outsiders the authority to complain. It’s the equivalent to complaining about your vacation being canceled because your destination has experienced an earthquake.

The issue is far bigger than a few people tearing up the streets, so if you blame those people you are also blaming the people who are trying to stay peaceful. Issues of race and suspected homicide are far worse than a rescheduled prom.

The real victims are the residents of Baltimore neighborhoods. The vast majority does not support the violent acts performed by a select few. Even now, Baltimore residents are cleaning up the mess and making plans to rebuild.

I respect the surrounding counties’ decisions to cancel things like proms, concerts, and field trips in the wake of this difficult time. Respect for the real victims has been maintained and that’s the most important thing to keep in mind.

Many people still don’t realize how lucky they are to live where they do and have so many opportunities available to them. Instead of feeling bad for themselves, people’s sympathy should be directed toward those who lack the opportunity to make better decisions. Environment plays a key factor in growing up. When your worst problem is your prom, consider yourself lucky.