On a very humid evening in the heart of downtown Baltimore I caught the aftermath of something heinous and despicable. After midnight on any given night near the red light district of Baltimore's famed (as well as infamous) Block you are able to see upclose and personal a microcosm of our city's ills. Young women willing to barter bodies for duckets, older men chasing after skirts and dirt to inject in already-poisoned veins, homeless individuals trying to coexist, and the Central Police District headquarters overlooking the debauchery within a few blocks radius. This makes for a combustible mixture ready to explode. So it should come as no surprise that the corner of Gay and Fayette became a powder keg of activity early Tuesday morning.
As I made my trek to the bus stop waiting for the Number 5 bus marked for Cedonia, I noticed a few individuals apparently doing the same. What made the scene surreal, however, was a middle-aged black male sitting on the curb, being interrogated (or investigated, as one officer YELLED). This interrogation occurred while the man was bleeding profusely from his forehead, evidently the victim of some sort of attack. Something didn't sit well within my spirit as the scene unfolded. According to the bloodied man, he was sitting near War Memorial Plaza, a short distance from the bus stop, when he was approached by another black male. Some type of discussion ensued, with the end result being an interrogation of a bleeding human being. Of course the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department have an almost impossible task of deciphering the true from the crazy and illegal in our beloved Charm City. This, however, doesn't warrant basic civil liberties from being stripped right in front of a victim. Even though I didn't witness the attack, I call the bleeding man a victim, just from the fact that he had no weapon, and he was bleeding. Two plus two still equals four in my book.
Let me backtrack a tad bit here. There was no weapon found on the scene, except for maybe the book the man was reading and still clutching in his hand. I was incensed when one of the police officers (who was also a black male) asked the injured and visibly shaken man why was he reading on the bus stop. I didn't know that a black man reading in public was deemed a crime anymore in our society, yet the few officers on the scene ran with this thickening plot. One of the alpha male officers made it a point to advise the gentleman, still sitting on the curb, waiting for an ambulance to tend to his injuries, that he was conducting "AN INVESTIGATION!!!", and shouted at him to shut the (censored) up. At that point my anxiety went from 0-60 in a matter of seconds, because this man didn't deserve the injury or the verbal abuse afterwards. Truth be told, physical injuries will heal and be forgotten, for the most part, but mental scars will last a lifetime. In my heart of hearts I feel that lump on his head will disappear long before the injustice witnessed on this early morning. Eventually an ambulance arrived and assisted the still-bleeding man. The lack of respect for him by the Baltimore City officers at the scene was quite evident, as a multitude of common opinions were voiced. I felt the burning need to be the mouthpiece, because hip hop as a culture needs to look at so many things that affect our communities, directly and otherwise. I would definitely be a WACK individual if I didn't at least share this with eyes and ears that are in tune to hip hop in one form or fashion.
I hope and pray that the victim of this attack recovers physically AND mentally. Physically from the blow to the head, and mentally from the blow to the psyche. Hopefully, the officers that hopped into their respective police cars (069255 and 078744 being two of the police cars on the scene) will realize that they contribute to the problems on the gritty streets of Baltimore when approaching any ol' black male with disrespect and disdain. That's why "Fight The Power", by the revolutionary hip hop outfit Public Enemy, will still have a relevant place in today's society, twenty years and one black president later.
FIGHT THE POWER (1990)
In 2010, let us continue to FIGHT THE POWER 2.0. It still takes a nation of millions to hold ALL of us back, be it black, white, red, brown, or any shade for that matter. Our collective voices need to be heard...