I’m sure you have heard the news of what the hell is currently going on in Baltimore as of this writing. Here’s a video of one of the riots that was posted three hours ago.

It’s the latest and most violent in a series of protests that have sprung up because the police have decided to do to Freddie Gray what Ferguson police did to Michael Brown and what the NYPD did to Eric Garner—murder an unarmed African American man who wasn’t doing anything violent. Except what the Baltimore police did to Freddie Gray makes the murders of Brown and Garner seem humane by comparison. Here are some of the details:

An attorney for his family said his spine was “80% severed” at the neck and his voice box was crushed.

If you think that’s hard to read, someone made a video of the police essentially crushing the hell out of Freddie Gray’s spinal cord. This video is NOT for the faint of heart.

What’s more, one of the officers involved was previously accused of domestic violence.

And that’s not to mention the neighborhood where Freddie Gray grew up and died in. Apparently that neighborhood, Sandtown-Windchester, is really bleak and economically depressed by Baltimore standards.

I was born in Baltimore and I grew up in nearby Glen Burnie. I wish I could say that I’m shocked at what is happening but I’m not. For all of its vaunted progressivism, its rich history, its past as an industrial and maritime hub, its quirkiness (such as the giant painted murals at the Station North Arts District), and its reputation for producing iconoclasts like John Waters and H.L. Mencken, there is an ugly legacy of slavery and Jim Crow that gets swept under the rug. For decades the Baltimore City public schools have been in shambles no matter who is the mayor. There are boarded up buildings that are literally crumbling and they should be condemned and razed. (Personally I’d rather see an empty lot than an abandoned building.) It’s not for nothing that, not one, but two series dealing with Baltimore crime—Homicide and The Wire—have been aired.

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I remember when the city’s idea of revitalizing Baltimore was to build Harborplace, which turned out to be little more than a glorified shopping mall.

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Harborplace’s initial success failed to trickle out to the neighborhoods who could’ve used the extra funds spent building Harborplace to do things like build playgrounds or clean up the streets or other types of neighborhood improvement. Even Harborplace didn’t turn out so well in the long run. So many stores have left that half of one of the pavilions have been turned into a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium.

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And, if you think Baltimore is bad, you should’ve seen Glen Burnie (located just south of Baltimore), which was full of would-be racist wanna-be rednecks, people (especially white people) who had no problems with making racist and homophobic remarks, and people who were quick to disrespect you if you said or did anything that was perceived as different.

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There were times when drunk people would make crank calls at our home after 2 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday morning (when the bars would close). I had been threatened and attacked by bullies both at school and in my neighborhood more times than I care to recount.

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My high school cared more about its star athletes than anything else—including any academically gifted students. I had white classmates in high school who became mothers before graduating. One girl in my class got married midway through our senior year and she was six months pregnant by Graduation Day.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if any other white cop/African American male incident happens in Glen Burnie, to be honest. In fact, I’m half expecting it. I left that town as soon as I could and I don’t regret it at all.

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