Baltimore police turned out to have a long history of violence and corruption.
The murder of Freddie Gray this week has generated civil unrest and riots all over Baltimore, Maryland.
However, the same events happened in 1968 after the government-sanctioned assassination of Martin Luther King. The city broke out in riots and police responded with overwhelming force causing the riots to overshadow the population's underlying demands for meaningful change.
The 1968 riots in Baltimore happened elsewhere around the country and followed uprisings in previous years. Before King was killed, riots erupted from Los Angeles to Detroit to Newark over deep, institutionalized racism and suffocating poverty. In all three of these cities, police action was the final tipping point that sparked people's aggression. Across the country, the state's reaction was the same: send in the National Guard and use force to silence opposition.It was the Los Angeles riots that contributed to the creation of SWAT, a precursor to the heavily armed police that patrol America today.
This week's situation is a direct example of how the government's violent tactics fail to create any progress. In fact, the conflicts are exacerbated by worsening conditions for African Americans. At the same time, the government ignores the deeper problems of why people are so enraged: they are marginalized and brutalized.
23 years ago this month, in 1992, a new wave of Los Angeles riots broke out after the cops who savagely beat Rodney King were exonerated of their crimes. Again, the National Guard was sent in and dissent was quelled, highlighting that little had changed from 1960s conditions or solutions.
Every time the government uses force to crush disobedience, it only attacks and intentionally ignores the causes. After decades of such approach, it is clear the strategy has failed. Rather, it leads to an endless cycle of oppression and violence that will never be resolved by the government's current strategy.
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