Human Rights

Baltimore Orioles Exec. Issues Surprisingly Powerful Defense of Protesters' Right to Be Outraged About Freddie Gray and Economy

After a media member critcized the protests, John Angelos fired back.

Arrest of Freddie Gray.
Photo Credit: screen capture

This weekend, protests over the suspicious death of Freddie Gray resulted in some property damage and vandalism. This predictably led to a debate about the proper way to protest, a discussion which is generally fueled by individuals who don't ever attend them. Although the economic case for riots is much more compelling than most people realize, the typical refrain tends to be that protestors "hurt their own cause" when a police car gets damaged or a 7/11 gets trashed. One of the most comprehensive takedowns of this thinking came from Baltimore's baseball team: Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President John Angelos.

There's a media narrative that arranges itself right away during these situations: property damage is a focus and any aggressive act toward the police is perceived as the initial example of agitation as opposed to, say, the fact that a 25-year-old died after his spine was busted. Although much of the mainstream media disregarded the protests in favor of White House Correspondents Dinner coverage, local Baltimore media was on the scene and some of their efforts were strikingly embarrassing. For instance, here's a tweet from WBAL-TV 11 reporter David Collins:

One of these local reporters was sports-radio broadcaster Brett Hollander, who made a series of tweets explaining how protests like this negatively impact the people of Baltimore. Hollander retweeted numerous examples of property damage and concluded that, "any really important message out of these protests is lost when the rest of the community is disrupted."

Surprisingly, the most incredible rebuttal to Hollander came from, Baltimore Orioles Executive Vice President and COO, John P Angelos. Angelos is the oldest son of the team's owner. Here's a transcript of Angelos entire Twitter reply:

 Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Freddie Gray's family says that his voice box was crushed and 80% of his spine was severed. If people want to focus on broken windows instead of this fact, Angelos' epic Twitter moment should be classified as required reading. 

 

 

Michael Arria is an associate editor at AlterNet and AlterNet's labor editorFollow @MichaelArria on Twitter.

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