PHILADELPHIA— I was seething inside as I watched the live television coverage of the recent rebellion/riot in Baltimore as we witnessed yet another explosion caused by America’s historic failures to rein in abusive police. Then I received a text message that led to a conversation that absolutely broke my heart.
The conversation was with my 11-year-old grandson, who himself was seething from what he saw going on in Baltimore.
My grandson told me he was mad…mad because police “keep killing black men.”
When I probed further into his anger he said he feared for his own life -– not because of what might happen when he gets older but because of what could happen even now if he encountered a police officer.
“I’m scared Pop Pop,” he confided. “I’m scared that police might hurt me. I’m scared because police don’t know how to control themselves!”
The heartbreak of hearing my own grandson’s fear was compounded by the ugly reality that the thing he now fears is a daily fact-of-life for children living in East Baltimore and too many similar places across America.
Children should be focused on fun, like enjoying those computer games they like to play, instead of fearing police violence arising from the reality that too many cops really cannot “control” themselves.
In Maryland, where my grandson lives, at least 109 people died in encounters with police between 2010 and 2014, according to a report released by Maryland’s ACLU just weeks before Baltimore burned.