By Sean Yoes
AFRO Baltimore Editor
The video of a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) sergeant being kicked by a handful of onlookers, as he attempted to make an arrest has sparked the latest chapter in a long series of viral video indignities for our city.
According to the BPD, Sgt. Simpson as he’s been identified was attempting to clear a business on Pennsylvania Ave., just before midnight on Jan. 17, when someone allegedly spit in his face.
Subsequently, cell phone video captures Simpson on the ground attempting to arrest the individual who allegedly spat on him, when a group of people begin to kick him and attempt to physically drag the young man out of Simpson’s grasp.
As of Jan. 22, three men have been arrested connected with the assault on Simpson, who was not seriously injured during the incident.
“What we saw was appalling,” was part of the reaction of Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Not to be outdone, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement, “I’m appalled and disgusted by the vile attack on a Baltimore police sergeant.”
Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police seemed to take a different tact amidst the reactions to the assault of Simpson.
“Crime in Baltimore is out of control and until new leadership is elected and appointed, this lack of respect for the law and those who enforce it will continue and deepen,” said the FOP.
Wow, okay FOP. And of course Young couldn’t let that slide. “I’m sick and tired of hearing what the FOP is saying when they should be out here with these brave men and women patrolling the streets instead of sitting behind desks, criticizing a plan that’s working,” Young said.
But, see that part where Young said, “….criticizing a plan that’s working,” that’s why people hate politicians.
When you finish a year with almost 350 murders and the last month of 2019 included the particularly disturbing homicides of Destiny Harrison, Carmen Rodriguez and Sean Davis, then you start 2020 off with 21 murders (as of Jan. 22) in 22 days, it seems dubious at best to suggest anything is really “working.”
But, back to the attack on Sgt. Simpson; to be clear when a police officer attempts to make an arrest of someone who allegedly broke the law, and is thwarted from doing so by others, that’s not just vigilantism, it is anarchy.
The most dedicated grassroots fighters in this city want justice for Black people and poor people, they want freedom for Black people and poor people and they want our communities to be repaired after centuries of purposeful harm inflicted by government. But, none of the grassroots fighters I know, want anarchy.
Despite everybody in authority expressing how “appalled,” “outraged,” and “disgusted,” they are regarding the attack on Sgt. Simpson (who should be commended for showing remarkable restraint given the perilous circumstances he confronted), how many of us are actually surprised?
Consider the following scenarios:
Officer William Torbit killed by fellow officers in a case of “friendly fire” in 2011.
The Gun Trace Task Force operated with impunity for about a decade as a lawless gang of criminals with badges.
The streets still believe Det. Sean Suiter was murdered by one of his brothers or sisters in blue in Nov. 2017.
Freddie Gray killed/murdered in police custody in April 2015.
Tens of thousands of illegal arrests of mostly Black, mostly poor people since 1999.
Innumerable beat downs, false arrests and murders of mostly Black, mostly poor people in Baltimore over the decades.
We live in a city where law enforcement is seen by many as the enemy of the people. In recent years, some officers have seemingly operated within the same criminal milieu they are sworn to protect us against.
As “appalling” as it was to see Sgt. Simpson attacked while attempting to make an arrest, how can anybody be surprised that a group of young Black men decided to take the law (literally) into their own hands and attempt to free another young Black man being arrested for what they perceive is a B.S. charge?
Karma is a b—-.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.