As the Freddie Gray Protests Continue, David Simon Urges Baltimore Residents Not to Riot

The former Baltimore Sun reporter and creator of The Wire and Treme has been actively participating in a heated discussion on his website about the situation.

Last night in Baltimore, as the protests set off by Freddie Gray’s funeral escalated into rioting, one of the city’s most respected cultural figures, David Simon, posted a brief but firm summation of his thoughts regarding the situation on his blog, and has remained there all day fielding responses in the discussion board.

Obviously well-versed in his city’s long-standing frustrations and race issues given the The Wire’s status as the defining show of Baltimore’s modern era, Simon has emphatically encouraged discussion, debate, and protest on the ongoing situation, but felt the need to condemn the rioting as it reached fever pitch late last night.

This is his original statement:

First things first.

Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed.  And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city.   Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard.  All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets.

But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease.  There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today.  But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death.

If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore.  Turn around.  Go home.  Please.

Since that first post, as troops have arrived to provide a state of military order, the debate has raged on below in the comments section, but Simon has stuck around to personally respond to many of the posts, helping to clarify his beliefs and mediate the discussion. In perhaps the most telling moment, the former Baltimore Sun reporter provided historical perspective to substantiate his somewhat controversial stance at the moment:

A riot will fix everything, I’m sure.

Last time that America was greeted with a string of them, we were rewarded with Richard Nixon, Spirow Agnew and as couple decades of counter-revolution and reactionary governance. But I’m sure this time, because the disenfranchised in Baltimore tore up a drug store, some mom-and-pop liquor stores and groceries and burned out the site of a future senior center, real change is on the way. Civil disobediance and mass protest has dignity, demands attention and draws allies. A riot is a riot is a riot. It gets attention to be sure, but the wrong kind.

You can enter the debate yourself on Simon’s site here.

(via The A.V. Club)


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