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Tag: freddie gray

Baltimore Riot. Baltimore Commune?

APTOPIX Suspect Dies Baltimore

By Joshua Clover / 25 April 2016

A picture of a young person on a BMX bike, April 27, 2015, his arms filled with looted cereal boxes. The caption on the original Instagram snap is mostly redacted. What remains reads “Baltimore shit” and “hate yall.” The person who has reposted this picture on Twitter wonders “Why would you take cereal” and attaches a series of emoticons indicating mortal disbelief. It seems like a good question. Why not take something more valuable, perhaps remarketable? Or why not something that expressed the riot’s state of exception, its curfewless joy — something like the tubs of ice cream some friends of mine wound up with in Hackney, summer 2011? The sense here is that an error has been made.

This sense corresponds to the axiomatic position of state, media, and the respectability politics that keeps state and media always in mind. Looting is not just a crime but an error, a tactical or moral failing. It is the act that delegitimates what might otherwise conjure some sympathy from the nebulous public and indeed the political class: the spasm of outrage erupting from an immiserated people. If only their refusal took a more properly political form instead of just jacking shit! Why, that’s just shopping on steroids, just — we are informed by self-serious theorists — capitalism’s ideology saying its own name through these benighted individuals greedily grabbing at goods the moment the opportunity affords. And, as our observer notes, not paternalistically but with wry puzzlement, paltry goods at that. Breakfast cereal.

This is a moment of levity, not the only one, in The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary. It is the first great book to come from the last great riot in the United States. It has a simple concept: it gathers together tweets related to the rebellion that followed on the police murder of Freddie Gray on April 12th of last year, his spine severed while being given a rough ride in the back of paddy wagon, shackled and alone, the vehicle careening intentionally off course through Baltimore neighborhoods that would burn in the weeks to follow. Coma, and then death on April 19th, which is when the first tweet is dated: “Screaming Fuck The Police #Justice4Freddie.” Increasingly angry protests would yield to open riot on the 25th, a year ago today.

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From Baltimore

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(via sicjournal.org)

Im heading home in two days.

There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.

Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making.

The black youth of Baltimore have been conditioned to view themselves as the problem. Every socio-economic issue that arises is somehow the result of their behavior. They hear this not only from the white cops, the filipina teachers, the korean liquor store owners, but also from too many of the blacks who attended Coppin or Morgan and secured decent jobs and decided that the reason the police still profile them, or their home values dont rise, or they didnt get that pay raise, is because “the niggas” moved out the county, or they are still robbing each other, or they make “the rest of us” look bad.

The structure of America has shifted to ensure that there is no place for these young people. The movements of today will not echo the struggles of the sixties. Today there is no protracted post-war economic boom, no high paying jobs for low skilled workers, no attempt to further integrate impoverished blacks into the productive process. Decades of deindustrialization halted the economys attempt to integrate low-income blacks into the workforce, and the exponential expansion of the prison system over the past four decades signals a return to the slave system as a means of managing black America. What we are witnessing in Ferguson, Baltimore, and soon in black neighborhoods across America, is a present-day slave rebellion.

Today, there is no legitimate black leadership. If anything the ascension of a handful of blacks into positions of power has demonstrated the structural impossibility of finding a place for the majority of blacks in America. A black mayor, a black police chief, a black president, and Baltimore still burns.

This is not a hopeful situation. It is fully possible that there can be no resolution to these problems. I can only hope that the people who designed this architecture of black misery, this meat-grinder of black flesh, will soon feel the weight of the teeth and nails on the backs of their own necks.

April 29, 2015

The Purge: Baltimore

Streets in Baltimore looked like a war zone early Tuesday after a night of riots

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The incident stemmed from a flier that circulated widely among city school students via social media about a “purge” to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on the film “The Purge,” about what would happen if all laws were suspended. The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.

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Hours later, on the city’s bitter streets, looting erupted at an East Baltimore shopping center called Church Square. Throngs of looters, mostly teenagers and young men, dashed into stores with an air of celebration and emerged with boxes of sneakers and armfuls of clothing. “We are going to riot until we die,” one shouted. LA Times

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“When a pair of police cruisers tried to enter the area, young men threw bottles. Several of the men wore surgical masks. Some carried baseball bats, others carried pipes. While several people held signs that said “Stop the war,” protesting peacefully, the rising chaos surrounded them: a broken-down BMW sat empty in the middle of the street, shards of glass from convenience store windows lay on the pavement and a young man carrying bolt cutters walked by.” NYT

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“The result is that for the first time in long time, Americans have reason to worry about what used to be called a “long, hot summer” — with violence of the kind seen in west Baltimore begetting more violence.” FT

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When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves. The Atlantic

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