While most of BlogDH’s content focuses on Brown (and RISD), we acknowledge it doesn’t take an on-campus event to send this community reeling. This special edition of our “What we’re reading” column aims to provide students with a roundup of the coverage of the recent issues in Baltimore, Maryland that we found particularly enlightening, as we did with articles on the events in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year.
If you are new to the topic, The Atlantic provides a concise, thought-provoking summary on what we know to have happened to Freddie Gray. Gray was arrested on April 12th when he made eye contact with a cop and ran away. On April 19th, he died of a spinal injury that was not present before his time in custody. As of this morning, the Maryland state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, charged 6 Baltimore officers in Freddie Gray’s death. The details on how this injury was sustained have not been unveiled. You can watch a video of the initial arrest here, and you can also read about the extensive record of police brutality in Baltimore (5.7 million dollars worth of lawsuits sxtince 2011) through this Baltimore Sun expose on undue force.
On Monday, a funeral was held for Gray. A few hours later, some of the protests turned into riots, and the National Guard was called in. Major news outlets have worked with the angle that the violence of the protests was premeditated. Many of you probably saw the headline, “Rival gang leaders agree to come together to take out police officers.” However, MotherJones, through on-site interviews at Mondawmin Mall, catalogues a different story. In “The Baltimore Riots Didn’t Start the Way You Think,” witnesses account a scene where police, in full riot gear, prevented many children from returning home from school, and using traffic barricades, potentially escalated the situation themselves. Continue Reading
Today, BlogDH lends it platform to the coverage of the events in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
We start with the fundamentals: how was the decision reached? The Washington Post provides insight into the process of how grand juries in Missouri work. If you want to read any of the material that the Grand Jury looked at in the past months, the New York Times has an interactive feature containing the documents released by the county prosecutor.
For coverage of the protests taking place after the decision was announced, the Root does straight reporting on how the police force responded last night in their article “61 Arrested, 10 Businesses Destroyed, 150 Shots Fired.” On the other hand, Mic.com uses 20 photos to portray a much more civilian-centered account of the protests in Ferguson. Spoiler alert: the police force in St. Louis have a very different interpretation of the protests than the civilian protesters do.
Much of the news coverage is centered around the resulting violent protests. Obama’s address to the nation asked for a peaceful response after the Grand Jury’s decision was released. The Huffington Post contrasts Ferguson with civil unrest around the nation that has nothing to do with politics, such as the scene of wreckage in San Francisco after the Giants won the World Series. In international coverage, Palestinians have been tweeting advice to protesters in the states on how to deal with tear gas.
Moving on from reporting, we look to analyses and media centered responses. FiveThirtyEight details why it is so unusual for a Grand Jury not to indict the accused, except in the case of police officers standing trial. The Root speaks to legal expert and attorney Eric Guster about the possibilities for bringing Darren Wilson up on civil charges, as the past few months have only held deliberations over criminal charges.
Some important opinions articles on the subject of race relations are being recycled due to continuing relevance. In August, Carol Anderson wrote an opinions piece in the Washington Post on why black rage against an unjust system is ruthlessly bashed in the media, while white rage against progress and equality is backed by the courts and the government. The Atlantic just bumped a powerful features piece called “The Case for Reparations: Two hundred and fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”
Brown Divest Coal will be holding their final rally of the school year at 1 p.m. They have been working all year to get the Corporation to actually vote on divesting from the so-called “filthy fifteen” coal companies, but President Paxson recently hinted that such a vote likely would not take place in May. Participants in this rally hope to change that. Brown Divest Coal has held a couple of rallies before, and their year-long efforts have yielded a 3,000-signature petition supporting divestment and endorsements from UCS and billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.
As it’s their last public event of the year, it’s your last chance to make your presence felt if you support the cause. If you don’t support it, well, go about your day as planned. With few classes still meeting during Reading Period, you can probably expect a big crowd on the Main Green (as of Thursday night, 117 were listed as attending). For more information, check out the rally’s Facebook event or Brown Divest Coal’s web site.
Late this morning, students lay head to toe across the Main Green as part of Brown’s leg of the national movement to divest from sporting goods giant Adidas due to unfair labor practices. Otherwise known as “badidas” (get it?), this national movement, which has successfully led to divestment from Adidas at Oberlin and Cornell (with several more having agreed to cut contracts), was formed in response to Adidas’ refusal to pay $1.8 million in severance owed to workers in Indonesia, among other offenses.
According to the Brown Student Labor Alliance website, though University administrators have addressed Adidas about its violations of the University’s vendor code of conduct, Adidas has not made any changes, and no definitive action has been made to cut Brown’s contract.
Decked out in workout gear, students held up signs reading slogans protesting Adidas’ practices, and encouraging the University to take action and terminate its contract with the company. And while most students might have other things on their mind in this week of weeks, you can learn more about “Brown Cut Adidas” and take a look at its petition here.
At noon, demonstrators from Brown Divest Coal will be taking their year-long campaign to the Main Green. Just a few days after hosting environmentalist Bill McKibben P’16 on campus, the organization will be taking its message directly to President Paxson as it hopes she will sign on to an effort to, according to the campaign’s Facebook page, “divest the Brown endowment from the 15 most environmentally destructive coal companies,” otherwise known as the “Filthy 15.” Coal “contributes to climate change and causes 13,000 preventable deaths each year,” says Emily Kirkland ’13, Brown Divest Coal’s Director of Media Relations. She expects anywhere from “50 to 75″ people to attend the rally, but there may be even more judging by the 126 who are “attending” the rally’s Facebook event.
Jason Hu is a member of EmPower.
Brunonia went to Washington this past weekend, as students from the Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition (RISCC) participated in protests at the White House against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
The pipeline is set to bring tar sands from Canada down to Texas, Hannah LeBourgeois ’15 said, and opponents have criticized it as a setback in environmental sustainability as well as independence from fossil fuels. Go here to learn more about the proposed pipeline.
RISCC—which includes schools throughout Rhode Island, and whose Brown chapter is a member of EmPower—had collected student signatures on a large canvas which it carried at Washington.
Images courtesy Lolly Lim ’12 and Jacqueline Ho ’14.