Cutting Through Police Propaganda in Baltimore

On Monday, the day 25-year-old Freddie Gray was laid to rest in Baltimore after fatal injuries sustained during an arrest, The Daily Beast reported that members of the Crips and Bloods had declared a truce and united to protest Gray’s death. Hours after the report was published, the Baltimore Police Department issued a press release citing a “credible threat” based on intelligence that “various gangs…have entered into a partnership to ‘take out’ law enforcement officers.” Later, gang members, upset that their truce had been spun by the police, told local NBC affiliate WBAL , “We did not make that truce to harm cops. …We’re not about to allow y’all to paint this picture of us. …We want justice for Freddie Gray.”

The WBAL report was so unusual that even the reporter admitted as much, saying in the beginning, “I’ve had a number of young people … stop me and say, ‘You really need to talk to us and you really need to get our voice heard,’ and I said, ‘You are absolutely right.’” Most of the media coverage of the protests that took place in Baltimore this week failed to provide context or give voice to those protesting, instead offering a simplistic narrative of “school-age youths” assaulting police officers at Mondawmin Mall.

cops-gone-wildFor example, this Washington Post article used the terms “mobs” and “looters” to describe students. But left out of mainstream media coverage was what Marshall “Eddie” Conway, a reporter for the alternative media outlet The Real News Network, told me in an interview on “ Uprising ” a day after the protests.

Conway, a former Black Panther Party leader in Baltimore who spent a whopping 44 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, explained that, “They [the police] closed the [Mondawmin] shopping center down, then…they let a high school out, then they closed down public transportation. So the students were released from school but they could not get on the metro system to go home or to leave the area. So they were stuck in that area and then massive police presence pushed them down to another area.” That is when students began physically expressing their anger.