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Munir al-Mawri

Obama without answers to rising tide of black anger

Another death at police hands. When will the protesters be heard? [AFP]

Date of publication: 28 April, 2015

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Comment: The deaths of black men at the hands of police in Missouri and Baltimore are sparking national anger, and it's now on the capital's doorstep, says Munir al-Mawri.

The African American protests in the US have now reached Baltimore, only 60 minutes away from Washington.

The threat of civil unrest now threatens the US capital after protests in Baltimore over the death at the hands of police on 12 April of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man.

Peaceful protests turned into what looks like an all out uprising that eclipsed the events in Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown last August.

The White House remained silent on the protests in Baltimore, which strongly indicates that it understands the dangers of the situation rather than being apathetic to events close by.

Complete silence in such events is an attempt to avoid further inflaming the situation by casting a limelight on it, however the federal government soon announced that it would investigate events in Baltimore as it had done in Ferguson, which is a 13-hour drive from Washington, the same time required to fly from Washington to Doha.

However due to the proximity of Baltimore to Washington, and given that many of its residents commute to the capital for work, most US commentators agree that the situation is very severe as the flames of the unrest can easily move to black areas in Washington.

Numerous cities around the country, such as New York and Los Angeles, have witnessed protests after the killing of Michael Brown in Missouri, therefore it is possible that this latest killing might result in a similar reaction.

The Gray family in Baltimore condemned the rioting that ensued after the funeral of Freddie Gray, and his mother told journalists: “I want y’all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here."

     I want y’all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here.
Freddie Gray's mother


Fredericka Gray, Freddie’s twin sister, spoke alongside Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and said: “My family wants to say, 'Can y'all please, please stop the violence. Freddie Gray would not want this." The mayor on the other hand expressed her disappointment at the violence and accused “thugs” of being responsible.

The cases of Brown and Gray are not the only one that have resulted in public protests, but have received wider media coverage.

After the killing of Brown and before the death of Gray, an black man was shot dead South Carolina as he attempted to escape detention for a traffic violation on 4 April.

This was preceded by the death of a number of other black people in New York, Ohio and South Carolina at the hands of police.

Despite Obama’s harsh criticism of local authorities for not being transparent and dealing with protesters negatively, federal authorities were no better in dealing with the problem.

Obama had previously promised not to allow local authorities to conduct investigations into these incidents alone, and that he would instruct the Department of Justice to oversee all investigations to reveal the responsible parties.

However, as the days went by, it became clear that Obama’s promises were not serious and were only used to absorb the anger of protestors on the streets at any cost.

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