In a recorded interview with Fox News, Baltimore Councilman Nick Mosby put into words the socio-economic factors that led the violent actions amidst otherwise peaceful protests in Maryland’s capital city. Speaking to the reporter, Mosby said that the young people who looted and burned buildings lacked the “intellectual voice” to express their frustrations at a system that had failed them. The elements of this failure include, according to Mosby, a public school system that is extremely underfunded and ineffectual, as well as many other aspects of a poverty-stricken lower class. He further said that while these events were initiated by protests related to Freddie Gray, a black man killed in police custody who had been charged with no crime, these events could have sprung up in any American city where terrible living conditions and non-existent public services conspire to make life particularly bleak for the poor, a population that is disproportionately African-American.
In the interview attached, the FOX interviewer notes that the police have stepped away from a nearby liquor store where looting is still going on. Councilman Mosby explains that he and a group of other men in the community approached the police and asked them to stand down, instead approaching the young people in their community who were doing the looting and asking them to stop. It is actions such as these, more than the police presence or the introduction of the national guard, that have served to diffuse a situation that, for a period of a couple of days, appeared ready to tear the city apart.
“No Justice, No Peace” is a mantra that has been repeated during similar events that have occurred all across America in recent months. It leads one to ask the question, “What does Justice mean for a population like Baltimore’s?” The answer is multi-faceted. Part of the problem is purely legal. Many Baltimore residents are unable to get good counsel when wronged. The expectation is that if an African American man is killed by law enforcement, however wrongly, there is no legal recourse. For many, lacking the funds to mount a successful suit, this is the sad reality. For these individuals, a No Win No Fee Solicitor may be the best and only option. It is important that good lawyers make their abilities available to disadvantaged populations in the face of police brutality.
Justice also manifests itself in equitable education. When cities like Baltimore are disinvested in to the point that this city has been, children, many of whom do not have a traditional nuclear family, don’t receive an education remotely comparable to children outside the city center. This is due in large part to population density, but it is also due to the fact that the best employment options have left the city for the surrounding county. The wealthiest residents move out to where the jobs are and spend their money there, outside the city with its schools.
There are many other factors that feed into an unjust climate for Baltimore’s poorest residents. There are many things that must change. And until they change, no justice, no peace.