The absolute citywide tragedy and outpouring of pain all over the streets in Baltimore last night was another breaking point in America’s attempt to negotiate and get out from under centuries of explicitly racist state violence, which in recent years has reached a fever pitch all over America but also, notably, within Baltimore’s own system. As detailed by the Sun, the city’s paid out an astonishing $5.7 million in police violence settlements alone since 2011, to victims like:

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.

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And still, the coverage of the Freddie Gray protests—a city taking to its underfunded and nationally forgotten streets to protest a 25-year-old whose voice box was crushed and spine was snapped in the back of a police van, prompting no consequences for those police officers other than some statements that mistakes were made—has been appallingly unfair on outlets like CNN, whose chyrons have featured such lovely lines like this:

“Suspect laid to rest as cops face gang threat.” This was a party line yesterday, with Baltimore police saying they’d received “credible” word that the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods and Crips had all “entered into a partnership to ‘take out’ law enforcement officers.” The WHAT ABOUT BLACK-ON-BLACK CRIME topical feint is real, and constant, and showed up on CNN in many other ways yesterday, like in this statement from a former FBI assistant director:

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Stories that come in more directly look a bit different:

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But anyway, instead of trusting the cops’ word on this, or CNN’s, or even Twitter’s: try a local Baltimore news station, who took a remarkable video of Black Guerrilla Family, Bloods and Crips standing together and explaining why they called their truce. It had nothing to do with harming cops, they say. They are eloquent and heartfelt at every step, saying, “We are not about to allow y’all to paint this picture of us. We got soldiers out here, we’re dirty. They threw bombs at us for trying to stop what’s going on right now.”

“Your game plan tonight has been to stop the violence?” asked the reporter.

“That’s all we’re trying to do,” says the Blood in front. “We’re trying to get justice for Freddie Gray.” About the mainstream news coverage, he says, “It makes us look bad. It’s backing up what they saying about us; they saying we’re animals, savages.”

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Later, the reporter says, “You guys feel that you’re getting the blame for what’s happening, correct?”

Another man says, “That’s right, because we’re black, and we have flags on, they assume we want to hurt somebody, or do this, or go and brain the next person. Most of us, as us older people, we bring everybody closer, make sure they got jobs, go to school on time. They just make it seem like, he’s black, he got a flag on, he’s got to be doing the wrong thing.”

The whole video is incredible—watch all the way through.


Contact the author at jia@jezebel.com.