…baltimore: police, poverty, behaviours – learned and inflicted…

…Baltimore: abandon hope, all ye who enter?…

Not as perplexing? The likelihood is very low, to zero, zilch, that all who join the police force in the US (and even elsewhere) are predisposed to psychopathic, sociopathic or violent behaviour so often evident. It is likely that some very small percent may display any of those characteristics. Thus, what would account for the near total unleashing of confrontation, violence rather than restraint, patience, or persuasion?

A case in point. RT reports on the pepper spraying and initially violent arrest of an unarmed protester who walks up to a line of officers at the start of the curfew, and invites their reaction. The video demonstrates their reaction, Baltimore protester wearing ‘F**k the police T-shirt’ gets face full of pepper spray (VIDEO).

Police officers sprayed pepper at him at a near point-blank range. The man was then pulled to the ground by the hair and dragged away by three law enforcers. The man didn’t appear to be resisting the police.

Very strange, even dehumanizing reaction by any civilized standard, other than in repressive societies.

That would again raise the question, why did civilized discourse, a courteous dismissal, persuasion, not enter the toolkit of responses? And, here we have the answer, obvious but too disconcerting to consider, a regimen of training and indoctrination to include repression or elimination of empathy: to consider the ‘other’ as sub-human, the ‘enemy’. Learned behaviour, reinforced as critical for survival. And to guarantee that survival, the intimidating uniforms and weaponry, and overwhelming force.

From that arises the ulterior motive, the profit motive of violence and repression. (Imagine the plight of the victims with the sending of such folk as military, already woefully ignorant of their own community’s culture, to another culture that is much more alien.)

Here, courtesy of AJE, we have a quick description of how unfettered capitalism undermines the fundamental community role of the police in civil society, especially among those blighted, conveniently invisible communities, ‘alien worlds’.

The profitable theatrics of riot control. With these observations,

The unrest in Baltimore after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray after he was critically injured in police custody has reopened longstanding debates over public-order policing. Where does protest end and rioting begin? What counts as violence? Is property damage ever legitimate? Listening to Fox News analyze the meaning of the word “thugs,” it feels as if we are doomed to repeat Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote “Riots are the language of the unheard” until we are blue in the face.


In Baltimore, tear gas pollutes an already toxic urban atmosphere. The city’s youth population under 18 has anasthma rate of more than 20 percent — twice the national average — vastly increasing the medical dangers of policing with chemical weaponry. Reports of skin burns, concussions and wounds from people on the streets suggest that riot control agents were fired at close range, in closed-off locations and in dangerously high doses.


The theatrics of riot control were designed to distract attention from the causes of injustice while destroying the dignity of those who contest them. As a doctrine based on colonial power, riot control erodes any real meaning in the right to free speech or public assembly. It denies the basic freedom to breathe together.

[bold added for emphasis]

And for the victims of poverty about whom much information is available, yet about whom little has been done, we turn to a report by the much reviled RT of 2Dec14, Poor teens in Baltimore face worse conditions than those in Nigeria – study.

And to illustrate how apt the seemingly tongue-in-cheek report of the Independent was, some excerpts on the report on the study conducted by professionals at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) of Baltimore,

A global study of adolescents from low-income neighborhoods revealed that teenagers from Baltimore, a city located just 40 miles from the US capital, are faring worse than their counterparts in Nigeria.

And in a society, where access to health care is conditional on availability of, and ability to pay for, health insurance, we find a city where unemployment is intractably very high and employment opportunities, very low, to non-existent, for under-educated or uneducated. Thus, even basic medical care can become an insurmountable challenge. Such sense of frustration and helplessness can often provoke an otherwise caring parent, often single mother, and lacking in parental and social skills, to inflict abuse, verbal or physical, on its off-spring, even if ill.

In Baltimore, teenagers exhibited high rates of mental health problems, drug abuse, sexual violence and teen pregnancy. In comparison, teens in New Delhi, despite residing in a much poorer country than the United States, showed fewer signs of such social behavior.

Such dismaying facts should suggest the question: in their orientation does anyone provide a profile of the community and its struggles to those officers? No need to ask what evidence there has been of the response of the policy makers – Nina Simone’s ‘Baltimore’ of 1978 is even more depressing in 2015.

…reaping the fruits of neoliberalism? only obscene inequality, and callous neglect of the ‘other’ – and to distract from that, the invention of l’ennemi du jour out there, in some country, any non-malleable country, is ever urgent…