Baltimore Take-Aways

Here in Baltimore, we’re buckling down the hatches and hoping to weather the storm. Unrest is expected in “the Northwest” but no one is quite sure what that means. Schools all dismissed early and it’s been recommended that children stay indoors. So far, it’s a snow day in April; iy”H it will remain so.

I’m sure some of what I say here will be controversial, but here are my opinions on the facts as I know them.

The Detention of Freddie Gray was Reasonable and Appropriate

People who have nothing to hide have no problem making eye contact with a police officer, and certainly they don’t respond to eye contact by bolting. This has nothing to do with “running while black,” and everything to do with “running from a cop.”

It is the responsibility of the Baltimore Police to keep public order. Especially in a high crime area, the fact that Gray went running off at top speed was an extremely good reason to detain him, start a conversation and find out why he was running away.

Then, upon detaining him, there was ample reason to bring him into custody. He was carrying a switchblade, which which is apparently against the law — I can’t tell you if that’s true for everyone or only for those with a criminal history, but Gray has seen the inside of a prison several times over the past 7 years. He was scheduled to be tried in May on drug charges. Officers apparently suspected he was involved in drug activity, but they never got to question him about that.

There is No Evidence (Yet) that Police did Deliberate Harm

Thanks to an abundance of cell phone videos, we know what police did when they dragged him to the van and when they put leg irons on him (apparently he was being violent). Nothing that we can see explains how he received the severe spinal injury which eventually caused his death.

According to policy, he should’ve been buckled in. If a prisoner is being violent with you, then cuffed or not it’s difficult to buckle him in without risking personal harm. The officers decided not to risk being head-butted or even bitten. I think we can understand that — but it was still wrong. If it took three officers to do it safely, then three officers should have been involved.

There was also no obvious physical injury, nothing for police to see and no indication of police brutality. The spinal injury was the only injury he suffered.

The remaining question, then, is whether the driver of the van deliberately chose to give him a “rough ride” as some sort of “payback” for being violent with them. I can’t answer that question, and I’m sure no one can until the investigation is complete.

If the arresting officers didn’t hurt him, and didn’t give him a rough ride, then how did he get hurt? Did he get jostled the wrong way? Did he slam himself into the side of the van for some reason? We may never know. The demonstrators don’t seem to be waiting.

He Should Have been given Medical Attention More Quickly

Someone being held down by police is immediately going to start saying “I can’t breathe,” in order to get police to relax enough to let them escape. A cuffed person will complain his wrists hurt — and Gray was recorded doing exactly that. Similarly, for someone detained by police to claim to need medical attention is a frequent tactic to avoid going to central booking. This last tactic just delays the process and means more time in custody.

This is something that officers know to explain, to distinguish between those just trying to delay from those who really have a problem. They ignored Gray’s complaints instead, and this was wrong as well.

The Demonstrations are Senseless

The Mayor of Baltimore is black [I would use the more politically-correct term African-American, but the hashtag is #blacklivesmatter]. The Police Commissioner is black. The majority of the city council is black. At least 25% of the police force (including, according to some reports, at least one of the arresting officers) is black. So I wonder if all these people protesting could please clarify who it is, among the mayor, police force and city council, who doesn’t think black lives matter?

Obviously, they do. Obviously, they want to find out what went wrong. Obviously, they are already working on it diligently, and not trying to cover anything up. Isn’t it incredibly premature to “take to the streets?”

No, the Mayor Didn’t Deliberately Let Them Riot

Much has been made of the following quote from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake:

I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters would be able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act, because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate, and that’s what you saw this evening.

Some have pounced on this statement, claiming that she was admitting that they intentionally provided “those who wished to destroy” with the necessary “space to do that.” But I think it’s obvious to any honest, thinking, unbiased person that this is not what she said. She said that in providing the protesters with space in which to “exercise their right to free speech,” this inadvertently gave space to “those who wished to destroy.”

Zero Tolerance Actually Works

Zero-tolerance doesn’t mean tolerance for false arrests. Zero-tolerance isn’t an excuse for officers to get it wrong, and officers shouldn’t be given quotas requiring a certain number of arrests. What zero-tolerance does mean is that even minor crimes are not tolerated. If people want to protest, and you let them congregate in legal fashion, that’s one thing. But if you let them block traffic and you don’t intervene, they will up the ante. They will throw rocks. They will destroy police cars. They will set fires.

In Israel they have the opposite problem. If something like this had happened in Jerusalem, the border police would’ve been there busting heads. As we know, the Israeli border police act completely outside the bounds of law and order, covering their nametags, wantonly clubbing bystanders and arresting people who photograph them in action (well, at least they did that third one before cellphones made it impossible to stop the photos from appearing).

Here, the police were hampered not only by numbers, but by a policy of excessive restraint in the face of not merely protests, but violence.

We can hope that tonight will be better — due to the presence of overwhelming force. But if police had been given authority to quell the protests and clear the streets, if they didn’t need to fear lawsuits if they shoved a person illegally blocking a street (the rock-throwing thugs, of course, had no such fear), it’s likely they could have regained the streets last night, and neither a CVS pharmacy nor a nearly-completed facility for the elderly would have burned to the ground.

Such is the consequence of fettering the shotrim, the people who guard us and ensure that we obey the laws — and who are authorized to use force when necessary.

Prepare for Round Two

The investigation will be completed soon. It is almost certain that whatever disciplinary action is warranted for failing to buckle Gray in or failing to respond to his medical complaints, it will hardly satisfy the mob thirsting for blood, or in this case, a charge of murder.

One can hope the Mayor has learned that its not only the demonstrators who deserve freedom to operate.

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38 Responses

  1. Yehoshua D says:

    The problem with you analysis is that it totally fails to take into account the context in which this occurred. Police have killed many black males over the past several months, with little or no justification. They have lost the benefit of the doubt in cases such as this.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    It should be easy by now to spot the kind of Mayor or Governor or President who will be too ideologically confounded to suppress rioting, and never to vote for that type again.

  3. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    TIME magazine had a cover story last week headlined “Black Lives Matter” but it is obvious from the way liberal media and academics cover the story that to liberals, black lives do not in fact matter, except when they can be exploited to further a political agenda. The agenda is the ever growing, ever metastasizing growth of centralized government power.

    A few black men died at the hands of police last year. Thousands of blacks died at the hands of other blacks; some of the victims were children, even babies. No one cried for them except their immediate families; no one cares, no one even mentions those victims. We all know the names Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, but who knows the names of the young black men who were murdered in Chicago last year?

    “This reporter took a look at the 2007 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report. In that study, the agency reported that blacks were victims of 7,999 homicides in 2005. It corroborated Giuliani’s claim that 93% of blacks were killed by other blacks, or about 7,440 murders in that year alone.”

    Liberals are the biggest racists, for them black people are just tools for their own power grabs, just props they can use to pat themselves on their backs and congratulate themselves for their own moral superiority. To liberals, black lives do not matter until and unless they are killed by white policemen.

    In the Torah it says that if a person is killed somewhere between two cities, and the culprit is unknown, the elders of those two cities have to testify, “Our hands did not shed this blood.” In other words, there is an assumption that the elders are responsible for people in their city, and even for travelers passing through. They can’t say “Our hands did not shed this blood” unless they know that they do take responsibility for the welfare and safety of their people.

    But for liberals there is never any responsibility. They destroyed the black family, they raised generations of millions of black boys and girls without fathers, and black women without husbands, and when anything happens they say smugly, “Our hands did not shed this blood. George Bush did it, the Republicans did it, rich white men did it, hey don’t blame us!”

  4. Michael says:

    Brilliant analysis — except that it ignores all context.

    (BTW, what does this article have to do with the mission of Cross-Currents. Is there anything here that has to do with Torah or has Torah content — or is it that the personal political perspectives of the blog owner automatically become “Torah”?)

    First I’ve heard that Baltimore police have historically been hampered by “a policy of excessive restraint.”

    And if there is such a policy NOW, well there might be a reason for it to have swung in that direction.

    See Atlantic Magazine: “The Brutality of Police Culture in Baltimore”

    Quote, from there, quoting Baltimore Sun:

    Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson ….

    And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims—if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him—a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”

    And from a Forbes Magazine columnist (albeit a “leftist”):
    Baltimore Meltdown The Result Of Police Brutality–Not A Silly Comment By The Mayor

    And from another piece in Atlantic:

    Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city’s publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city’s police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.

  5. Yaakov Menken says:


    It’s one of the nice things about Cross-Currents being an online journal with a very open writing policy. It’s my perspective on a current event, written last night as we were in essence under siege. You don’t have to read it, of course.

    The Atlantic is so far out on the unreasoning left-wing fringe that one of your quoted pieces prejudges anyone who says “let’s wait for an investigation to happen.” The police are guilty, obviously guilty, and because they want to finish their investigation, that means they “can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death.”

    Of course, by any reasonable standard, they don’t have to — they only have to offer a reasonable defense that they didn’t knowingly or negligently contribute to his death. What we saw on camera was not brutality. Their one failure was not buckling him in. But if he slammed against a door trying to get attention, and in so doing injured himself, that can’t be blamed on police.

    Perhaps unlike you, I’ve been called to jury duty by the City of Baltimore several times. Most of us with jobs, of course, can’t stay for a four-day trial, or try to get out of it. So what you get is quite literally a jury of “peers” of the one claiming police brutality. I don’t believe the juries in the city are impartial — and yes, I do believe mistakes happen, and cops who don’t belong get left on the force.

    But matched to the percentage convicted for homicides, white people are more likely than blacks to be shot by police while unarmed. And if Al Sharpton cared at all about the lives of young black men, he’d be working on disarming the gangs, not the cops. Whether or not cops make mistakes, those neighborhoods need protection from the evil within. Instead, they refuse to “snitch,” and murderers get a free pass.

    Who is going to lose after all this? The impoverished black people who have to live in the neighborhoods they just burned down. Who is going to invest in that area? Are you going to go open a business there, now? So they’ve ensured their own continued poverty, that the cycle will continue.

    Baltimore Meltdown The Result of Sheer Stupidity.

  6. Michael says:

    The Baltimore Sun investigation showed that most of the payouts were to people who, although arrested, were never charged.

    Although you don’t like the messenger, the data, the pictures, and the fact they were not charged does seem to speak for itself.

    As for your last sentece, pretty insensitive, considering that there were MORE community memebers participating in the CLeanup today than participated in the rioting yesterday.

    I’d change your last sentence to:

    Who is going to lose after all this? The impoverished black people who have to live in the neighborhoods a small number of thugs just burned down. Who is going to invest in that area? Are you going to go open a business there, now? So the thugs (who were ultimately on their way to a life in and out of prison anyway) ensured their neighbors’ and families’ continued poverty, that the cycle will continue.

    Baltimore Meltdown The Result of a mayor’s and a small number of thugs’ Sheer Stupidity.

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    Michael, would you be surprised if I agreed entirely with your change? Well done! If there were 100 more people like Robert Valentine and Toya Graham, they could turn the situation around for everyone.

    But as I said, cops get accused of racism all the time, but no community needs the police more than those living in poor, inner-city communities.

  8. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    Michael wrote:
    “the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.”

    The state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore are ruled by Democrats and have been for decades. Liberal policies result in decline, destitution and desolation. A black mayor and a black police chief (and let us not forget, a black president of the United States) have done nothing to make life better for black people — not in Baltimore, or in Detroit, or in any inner city. Liberalism is like a wrecking ball that destroys everything in its path.

  9. Yaakov Menken says:

    I feel like a prophet now. Michael, I wonder how The Atlantic will explain away this “rational justification for Gray’s death:”

    A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    What would it take to make a majority of Baltimore voters elect a competent city administration? If they can’t find a way to do that, no solutions will be found.

  11. Rafael Araujo says:

    Yes, there is evidence Freddie Gray basically critically injured himself. The problem is that for the police, since there any too many instances of police brutality, no one will believe them and its like they are “crying wolf”.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    The above quoted link from the Washington Post should also generate some debate-as should recent WSJ editorials and op eds that urge any interested person to look at the words of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan-who identified the dysfunctional family structure of inner city families as a major cause of inner city crime-as opposed to racism.

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that Baltimore experienced what can only be called the failure of urban policies that were implemented by liberal Democrats -ala NYC pre Giulani, and which were the causes of urban blight in LA and Detroit.

  14. Shlomo r. says:

    Kudos to Yaakov Menken for calling out the Atlantic as a radical left wing biased unreliable news source.Just look at their Israel coverage.Enough said.

  15. Michael says:

    The police have a track record of falsifying evidence, witness tampering (eg. making deals), covering up for each other, their tradition of paddy wagon “rough rides” with shackled prisoners placed on narrow benches, the newly-discovered “extra stop” than the van made (not reported by police), and the unlikelihood that someone could sever their own spine.

    I have a close friend who worked as an Assistant DA in a large urban city (frum guy and hardly a liberal) and he told me that policemen were, by and large, the most well-practice liars, least trustworthy, and immoral individuals he cam across in the course of that job, more so than the criminals he prosecuted.

    I once asked why people become cops there and he said “because the brown shirts aren’t hiring.”

  16. Yaakov Menken says:

    Michael, none of what you wrote is unknown to investigators. I mentioned “rough rides” in my piece. I’m wondering why you and Giraldo Rivera think the extra stop is some huge smoking gun — especially since it was the police themselves who discovered and revealed the extra stop.

    It is not at all unlikely that Gray severed his own spine. It now appears that he stood up in the van and then lost his balance, slamming himself into the back door. It turns out that the new policy requiring seatbelts was so new that most cops didn’t know.

    Glad to know you’ve let one assistant DA color your thinking. As an NWCP watch commander, I spend three hours working with a cop every seven weeks, plus extra — I’ve been in touch with him several times during this whole thing, of course. And I worked with two of his predecessors as well. These are all people who chose a career in law enforcement to make the city safer for the law-abiding citizens, and yes, I’m grateful for what they do.

  17. Avraham says:

    I am wondering what your reaction is to today’s news conference in which it was declared that the intial arrest was unlawful, and that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide. (I guess he did not injure himself after all.)

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    If you are astounded at the “mainstream media”s coverage of Israel, then one should be equally astounded at the evolution of Al Sharpton into a “go to person” on “racial issues” in the US.

  19. Yaakov Menken says:

    I am wondering why you think I should be anything but happy the system worked. What I said was that there was a rush to judgment, a belief that the system is broken, a feeling that all cops are bad and “black lives don’t matter.” All of that was, and is, true.

    I’m not sure how they concluded that *all* the cops involved got it wrong, but here’s what we do know:

    The Detention of Freddie Gray was Reasonable and Appropriate — true. He ran from a cop. However, because he was not carrying a switchblade, he should never have been arrested.

    There is No Evidence (Yet) that Police did Deliberate Harm — the evidence now exists that their behavior towards him was negligent, far beyond anything we were told previously, and that means they were criminally liable for his injuries. They didn’t put him in a chair and fail to buckle him in — they “left him stomach-down on the floor of a police van as they drove around West Baltimore!”

    He Should Have been given Medical Attention More Quickly — clearly. This is central to the prosecution of the officers.

    The Demonstrations are Senseless — this is more true than ever. It turns out that the State’s Attorney, who is also African-American, was conducting her own investigation alongside that of the police. She comes from a family with what the news calls “a long history of policing,” and she has little tolerance for bad cops. No, the riots did nothing to help her do her job.

    Prepare for Round Two — I was clearly wrong, because the police were guilty of much greater wrongdoing than we knew previously. He never should have been arrested, they dropped him on the floor of the van, and they failed to get him medical attention.

    But if any of the six officers are found not personally responsible, I would still say there could be a round two in the future.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with Mrs. Katz-the “third rail” issue that noone discusses in dealing with inner city crime is the lack of a nuclear family structure. One wonders why.

  21. mb says:

    It was refreshing to see an Orthodox Rabbi celebrating with the black community on the announcement that criminal charges were brought against the six police officers.

  22. Yaakov Menken says:

    Note that 50% of the officers arrested in the death of Daniel Gray… are black. The only racists here were the ones chanting #blacklivesmatter and blaming white people for the actions of 3 blacks and 3 whites, commanded by a black man, with a black mayor and black prosecutor.

  23. Bob Miller says:

    Regardless of what was done or not done to Gray, the Mayor, DA, and Police Commissioner involved appear to be minimally competent at best, and maximally guided by political considerations. Governance is serious business.

  24. Reb Yid says:

    Notice that the most senior officer, who initially made “eye contact” with Gray and began chasing him on foot…was white. And that the 2 other officers who chased him down, and along with the first, handcuffed him, shackled his feet and herded him into the police van without buckling him in…were also white.

    There are two separate but very related themes here and in many other parts of the country.

    The first theme is the injustice of the criminal justice and police systems as currently constituted. The second theme is the systematic discrimination of certain minorities and how this discrimination is institutionalized in this country.

    [And the guy who drove him around without checking his condition… was black. And the supervising police commissioner who gave them their orders… was black.

    The dominant theme here is an incredible, and wrong, sense of entitlement on the part of a ghetto underclass that is largely African-American and has been given 50 years of non-stop handouts in cities like Baltimore, where the last Republican mayor left office in 1967. The second theme is the knee-jerk jumping in on the wrong side on the part of liberals, led by the liberal-in-chief, Barack H. Obama. Crowley, Zimmerman, Wilson… and now this case. At what point do we call this sort of knee-jerk reactionary attitude, racist? –YM]

  25. Reb Yid says:

    Actually, the ONLY guy who called dispatchers, asking them to send an officer to check on Gray was said driver, who was black. We have no indication from the indictment that any white officer at any time cared one iota about Gray.

    You seem to be like Romney who was complaining about the “47% who only got “handouts”.” Really, it’s guys like Romney who only had to pay 15% in taxes for most of income (investments), while the working stiffs have to pay roughly double that, who are getting the handouts. And that’s not even getting into all of the off-shore locations where he can stash his money without paying any US taxes.

    It is sad that you are so quick to blame the victim here and in other posts that have popped up over the years. And so quick to defend the corrupted status quo.

    Unless, of course, an Orthodox Jew gets victimized. Then, and only then, does your heart begin to bleed.

    [This is a really pathetic attempt to blame the white guys and exonerate the black guys, contrary to all known facts in the case. The three white officers put him in the van, and at least one of them, if not all three, should probably be charged with making a false arrest since the knife in question wasn’t a switchblade. He should have been given his inhaler, but that’s not what killed him. No one claims Gray was critically injured by the time they left him to be driven away — and it seems like the way he was loaded into the van isn’t unusual, though it was against the new regulations (that they probably hadn’t yet read). That violation is shared between all three (white) arresting officers and the (black) driver.

    Ceaser Goodman, the driver, is the one charged with second-degree depraved heart murder. He and two other black officers are the ones who did such a fastastic job “checking” Gray’s condition and ignoring his pleas for medical attention. None of them called for medical assistance until they discovered Gray in cardiac arrest.

    I didn’t say no wrong was done to Gray. I said that there was a rush to riot and to blame the white guy — all of which is true. Neither do I defend all Orthodox Jews — just object to the rush to judgment and blame. I’m being extremely consistent — and so, sadly, are you. –YM]

  26. Yehoshua D says:

    1: Your assertion that the regulations are new is false. Though they had been recently updated, the rule that a person being transported must have a seat belt has been in effect for 9 years.
    2: Your claim that since three of the officers arrested are black this episode cannot be one of racism is also false. The racism discussed here is not KKK-style. Nobody is suggesting that white cops across the country are trying to murder black men. rather, the issue is that there is a (perhaps even subconscious) bias against black males, leading officers who interact with them to regard them as more suspicious than their white counterparts. This bias has been clearly demonstrated in experimental settings (there was an interesting segment on this on This American Life about 2 months ago). This bias can effect black officers as well.
    3: Before you go on about “handouts” and the like, it would be wise to read up on the policies in place between World War I and 1960, which effectively forced the black community to remained ghettoized by refusing them government-backed mortgages for the purchase of homes in suburban areas.

    [1. My assertion? Do you mean, “the assertion of the AP and every reputable news organization?” I have not seen any report of it being a 9-year-old regulation. However, I have seen BCFD medics laugh off the use of a KED (for spinal immobilization after an accident) when extricating a driver, who of course wasn’t being combative. If they took a shortcut with a combative person it was wrong but not terribly surprising.

    UPDATE: “a policy written in 1997 said seatbelt use was discretionary. However, a new policy requiring their use was communicated to officers on April 9, just three days before Gray was arrested, and the police union president said many officers were not yet aware of the policy changes. A friend of an officer who arrested Gray said the suspect wasn’t secured in the van because officers were not able to bring him under control and were afraid he would attack or bite them.”

    2. Gray was in a high-crime area with lots of drug-dealing, has a rap sheet a mile long, and ran as soon as he made eye contact — but of course, chasing him is “racist.”

    Blacks were 13.2% of the US population, yet committed 43.5% of the homicides, in 2013. 90% of their victims were black.

    Why do you not complain that Israeli airport authorities pay much more attention to Arab passengers, or that the police are also vastly more likely to detain men rather than women?

    3. Last time I checked, 1960 was over 50 years ago. And 50 years ago, before all the handouts, the black crime rate was much lower. Which was my point. We could have done away with the inequity without handouts that encourage teen pregnancy. –YM]

  27. Yehoshua D says:

    “Gray was in a high-crime area with lots of drug-dealing, has a rap sheet a mile long, and ran as soon as he made eye contact>”

    Well, if being apprehended by the cops results in them murdering you, I think it is a good idea to run.

  28. Michael says:

    Not sure why the focus is on half the offending officers’ being Black.

    I thought the issues Locals were having was a culture within the Police Dept.

    With all the lauding of the mother who smacked around her wanting-to-riot kid, she did it not because of lofty conservative values, but because she feared that, if arrested, he would wind up like Freddie Gray — meaning brutalized or killed by the Baltimore Police.

    Whether that fear was rational or statistically justifiable, that’s how even this “Mom of the Year” views Baltimore Police culture.

    Apparently, and the Baltimore Sun investigation seems to bear that out, many people’s encounters with the police have not been as respectful as those enjoyed by those outside their neighborhood.

  29. Bob Miller says:

    Even if the events in the van are sorted out, it will be hard to prove that individual cops involved acted out of malice. Maybe we’re dealing with incompetence or unfitness for their job or lousy training.

  30. Yaakov Menken says:

    Michael, of course you know why the focus is on the officers being black, and it’s not just about an “anti-black culture” within the Police. The #blacklivesmatter hashtag linked Freddie Gray to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, claiming that white police / security like to kill unarmed black men. This was wrong in all three cases, but most of all with Freddie Gray, because the people who left him to die in the back of the van were black themselves.

    You seem to like a certain view of the facts that is at odds with reality. Toya Graham “denounced the vandalism and violence against police officers. She said rioting in Baltimore is no way to go about getting justice for Freddie Gray and that she doesn’t want that life for her son.” She didn’t talk about the violence of police officers, but against police officers.

  31. Michael says:

    For instance:
    Dear White America: Toya Graham Is Not Your Hero

    (Following is a quote):
    On a very basic level, the worship of Graham is built on a misunderstanding of her motivation. Many in the media have presumed she was furious at son Michael Singleton for taking part in a riot, and dished out the blows that police and pundits think young black men need to get them back in line. But that’s not what she says drove her.

    Young black men, like Graham’s son, are 21 times more likely than young white men to be shot dead by police. Graham was scared for her child.

    “That’s my only son and I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” Graham told CBS. “Two wrongs don’t make a right, and at the end of the day I just wanted to make sure I had gotten my son home.”

  32. Yaakov Menken says:


    Terrific. You’ve shown us clear and compelling proof that writers for the Huffington Post will twist, distort and falsify in order to deprive an African-American woman of much-deserved kudos for being a quality mother. Because if you follow the link from that article to Toya Graham’s TV interview, she says something very different than what the writer apparently would have preferred she’d have said. Of course, CBS makes sure to juxtapose her interview with another woman who was “on message” with liberal talking points, afraid her kids would be another Michael Brown — ma’am, just make sure your son doesn’t lean into the window of a cop car to beat up a cop, and he won’t be — but here’s what Graham said in reference to her son, which the writer apparently “forgot” in her desire to strip Graham of much-deserved credit:

    “He’s just like the other teenagers that doesn’t have the perfect relationship with the police officers in Baltimore City. But you will not be throwing rocks and stones at police officers.”

    According to the writer (and Michael), “two wrongs don’t make a right” makes no sense, but in context, immediately following the above, it follows perfectly. If what the police did to Freddie Gray was wrong, Graham said, throwing rocks at them is also wrong — and not simply because he’d be shot.

    [The Crime Prevention Research Center showed that the “data” on blacks shot by police is similarly inaccurate and devoid of context.]

  33. Reb Yid says:

    Read Alice Goffman’s sobering ethnography ON THE RUN. After reading that book, one can truly understand how any visit from a policeman in a poor minority inner city neighborhood can be met with total fear by young African American males.

    It’s no wonder they’re on the run.

    [She did her work for Princeton’s sociology department. She roomed with, by her own description to Princeton Alumni Weekly, “low-level drug dealers who keep crack and guns in the shared apartment,” and describes how terrified she was being interrogated by police and encouraged to inform on her roommates.

    How terrible those cops are, wanting to get drugs off the streets and help the young men of the inner city to stop killing each other over them. And yeah, it’s no wonder why low-level drug dealers are on the run. –YM]

  34. Reb Yid says:

    Read the entire book, not a mere press clipping. She spent 6 years living with these individuals. It will make you ask some very tough questions. Then you’ll stop blaming the many victims here.

  35. Yaakov Menken says:

    It’s wonderful when mr. anonymous impugns my ability to comprehend. Far from being a “press clipping,” the book was the feature of PAW that week and subject, of course, to great adulation.

    Another alumnus pointed out why you, and she, have it so wrong:

    I am disturbed by the speciousness of her appraisal of a situation that is probably America’s greatest domestic problem today. Ethics includes our culture’s faith that wrongs are not righted by other wrongs. Of course, logically, neglecting to enforce the law will reduce the number of people in prison, but it’s hard to defend that as a way to reduce crime.

    Our society has known moments of praiseworthy civic disobedience, but never in the name of drug dealing, murder and robbery. Selective application of legislature by those empowered to enforce the law is, in any case, a big step on the slippery slope of undermining democracy. “Fear of confinement” on the part of criminals is what is destroying life in the ghettos? Law enforcement is the culprit?

    Having begun my career as a journalist as a police reporter in Philadelphia, on a beat from 5 PM to 2 AM I got my view of the deplorable life of people in the ghettos, but I also came to know the underpaid, dangerous, and revolting life of policemen and detectives, taunted continually and sometimes attacked, trying to do something about the lawlessness of the ghettos, for the sake of upright inhabitants who are more victimized than the criminals Ms. Goffman calls “victims.” Despite the single examples of police brutality that appear occasionally in the press, the days when police fearlessly tread on civil rights are very much behind — although I’ve seem cops angry, and even using the obscenities she mentions — in contrast, I presume, with the King’s English of her drug and crack dealing, gun-toting roommates. Incidentally, I can’t remember any detective who had the foolishness of leaving his gun on a table within reach of a suspect.

    See also The Stoop Isn’t the Jungle by Dwayne Betts, who grew up in a similar neighborhood, spent eight years in prison for carjacking, and is today a student at Yale Law School — who takes her to task for numerous factual and contextual errors and undocumented accusations about police practices.

    And here is the most profoundly disturbing thing Betts has to say about her book (and all who praise it):

    Immersing herself in the lives of her friends and subjects, Goffman nearly loses herself. One night, after a rival crew murdered Chuck, she found herself driving Mike around searching for Chuck’s killer. She tells us that she wanted Chuck’s killer dead just as Mike and the rest of the crew did. Mike did not find his target that night. What if he had? Goffman never interrogates her own motives, or how close she came, potentially, to abetting a killing. Instead, this reads as her crowning war story, the moment when she finally understood what it meant to be one of the young men of 6th Street.

    And again, she, and you, blame the police for creating the problems.

  36. Reb Yid says:

    It’s lovely that you’ve looked at reader comments that match your current prejudices rather than reading on your own and coming to your own conclusions.

    Goffman, by the way, started this when she was an undergrad at my alma mater (Penn) and finished it as a grad student at yours (Good Old Nassau). The police are no doubt part of the problem but that is losing sight of the bigger picture, which is the larger criminal “justice” system, incarceration, parole, recidivism, the legal system, as well as the police.

    The whole structural apparatus is flawed. Why we spend so much of our resources on this, and on fighting certain types of crimes as opposed to others (and how different types of “offenders” are treated) is at the heart of the issue.

    All of this and much more are hopelessly stacked against young inner city African American males. There is unfortunately a reason why 1 in 4 African American males are in prison, and why 40% of the current prison population is African American. The US system is to blame for this–no other country in the world comes close to these ridiculous proportions.

  37. Yaakov Menken says:

    Only an anonymous person would imagine that others need to suffer through an entire book recommended personally by him in order to form an informed opinion about an issue. I (obviously) looked at reader comments on both sides, as well the aforementioned adulatory article. Oh, and I even skimmed the version of her study found in American Sociology Review, but oh well. “Reb Yid” will continue to glorify her, even after she looked forward to helping to murder someone.

    It’s a wonderful liberal concept that we should blame the solution for the problem. Never mind the clear and obvious lessons of the past 50 years — the miserable failure of Dinkins and the success of Giuliani, for example — we’ll continue to blame the solution for being the problem. In what other country do you find a concentrated inner city population with such easy access to drugs and guns? In what other country is there an entire culture glorifying crime and the dress code of criminals? [The entire “style” of men’s pants so low that their underwear is visible comes from prison, where belts are (often) not allowed — something I learned from a police officer and friend of mine who happens to be black.] Right.

    Enough … I’m going back to enforcing a policy of one comment per article — and that’s for those willing to use their name. Otherwise you end up in these dumb “oh, but you have to read her entire book or you can’t possibly understand the issue” type of arguments. As someone very wise once told me: “never argue with an idiot. Idiots will drag you down to their level, and then based upon their rich previous experience, they will win.” And those unwilling to give their names are, in so doing, freeing themselves to be idiots, regardless of their great intelligence in other situations.

  38. Steve Brizel says:

    The real issues are that those who should be insisting on the values of faith, family and education, are all too eager to condemn policemen who risk their lives trying to prevent crime and the disintegration of the quality of life in the inner cities in the US, and whose support of the police is limited to a photo op at the funeral of a police officer. The facts are that the social pathologies that were identified by the Moynihan report of 1965 have not been alleviated despite decades of Great Society programs where millions of dollars have been poured into America’s poorest communities with no sign of alleviation of the conditions therein-such as the lack of fathers, an increased number of children born out of wedlock, and public educational systems that serve as baby sitting enterprises, and which led by the teachers’ unions. resist any notion that charter schools might offer something constructive . One need only look at any inner city to realize that the inner city of Baltimore is hardly unique in its conditions. It is indeed a tragedy that the message conveyed in the inner city via our media and entertainment worlds today is that celebrity and sports are the only way out of the inner city.

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