Baltimore – how poverty and police racism ignited a city

poverty in baltimore

“Revolution begins when there’s no resolution to a problem. When a person is beaten back into a corner and they’ve come to the conclusion that nobody cares about them,” writer Ray L Brown told Socialist Worker.

“They can’t call the police. They have been getting away with the way they treat people of colour for years.” Ray L Brown Ray lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where Freddie Gray died last month (see below). Police pre-empted the damning report into Freddie’s death that led to officers being charged, with a leak that suggested he injured himself.

Black Lives Matter protests sprang up in the city, linking the death to those of other black men who have died in police custody. Freddie’s death is just the latest episode.

“They’re saying he broke his own back and crushed his own larynx. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” says Ray. “I don’t condone looting and burning, but I see a people who have just got tired of how they are treated. This isn’t a black thing or a white thing. It’s a police thing.

“They showed clips of kids throwing rocks at the police officers, but they didn’t show the police officers had thrown rocks at the kids when they got off their school buses. When the kids retaliated now all of a sudden they’re thugs.

“They didn’t show the peaceful demonstrations or the people standing in front of stores to stop them being looted. So now all of a sudden Baltimore is under siege.”

Water Freddie Gray Before the news of Freddie’s death the big news in Baltimore was about water being cut off. About 150 households a day are having their water cut off in Baltimore for being as little as £165 behind in payments. Commercial properties that fall behind with payments have not been cut off.

The city is blighted by poverty. The collapse of industry and the docks left many people unemployed.

Baltimore was once the second port on the US’s east coast. It was an industrial city. From a peak of nearly a million in 1950 its population has declined to about 620,000. The black population grew from 24 percent in 1960 to 64 percent in 2000.

The authorities have cracked down on the poor. The police have introduced curfews to stop the protests.

But a curfew on young people has been in place since 2014. It […]