Charles Dickens couldn’t have scripted it better, as riots swept through Baltimore even as Barack Obama and his media pals partied together at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. While Obama and his celebrity hangers-on cracked jokes about Fox News scaring “old white people,” younger white people were being attacked in the streets by infuriated blacks ostensibly protesting the recent death of Freddie Gray, a black man who fled police, was detained, and died under circumstances that are still under investigation [The 45-minute mystery of Freddie Gray’s death, by Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun, April 26, 2015].
But even as America is glued to the television watching the black urban riot of the week, the real political victim of today’s events might be former Maryland Governor and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, the erstwhile progressive favorite to challenge Hillary Clinton. O’Malley was already facing an uphill struggle, not just because he was confronting the vaunted Clinton machine, but because he is a cisgendered (that means normal) white male in a Democratic Party that only seems united by hatred of that demographic. But since Elizabeth Warren refused to enter the Democratic primary, there is space to Hillary’s left for an economic populist (or someone who claims to be an economic populist) talking about issues like income inequality, Wall Street regulation, and trade [In aggressive bid to get noticed, O’Malley hits Clinton from the Left, by Anne Gearan and John Wagner, Washington Post, April 24, 2015].
One of O’Malley’s problems is that he is far more of a technocratic liberal than a populist, governing, in many ways, like the Clintons [The Progressive Impersonator, by Jamelle Bouie, Slate, April 1, 2015]. Another is that his accomplishments in Maryland seem to be fading away, as Republicans gain ground even in this deep blue state [Martin O’Malley’s Incredible Shrinking Legacy, by Alec MacGallis, Slate, March 12, 2015].
But the biggest problem O’Malley faces is that he governed majority black Baltimore like a reformist, crime-fighting white mayor from 1999-2007. While this was once the foundation for his political success, in an age where the great heroes of the left are the likes of Trayvon Martin and “Gentle Giant” Mike Brown, this is a liability.
And the Main Stream Media is already turning on him. O’Malley tried to echo the standard leftist Narrative on police violence in Baltimore by blaming everything on “a painful history in our country, legacy that we continue to work on and work through and seek to overcome every single day.”
But as the Washington Post intones,
It was as a crime-busting mayor some 15 years ago that O’Malley first gained national attention. Although he is positioning himself as a progressive alternative to Hillary Clinton, O’Malley also touts a police crackdown during his time as mayor that led to a stark reduction in drug violence and homicides as one of his major achievements.O’Malley championed “zero tolerance” policing, which his supporters note resulted in a drop in homicides and a reduction in crime by 41 percent. One aide called the policies “appropriate for the time.”
Yet some civic leaders and community activists in Baltimore portray O’Malley’s policing policies in troubling terms. The say the “zero-tolerance” approach mistreated young black men even as it helped dramatically reduce crime…
[As Baltimore mayor, critics say, O’Malley’s police tactics sowed distrust, by Paul Schwartzman and John Wagner, The Washington Post, April 25, 2015]
But this is a new time. And now the New York Times grimly informs us,
Zero-tolerance policing led to mass arrests of people for small infractions, as well as intense “community frustration,” Ms. Kumar of the A.C.L.U. said. “Countless innocent people,” she added, “were getting caught up in this dragnet style of policing.”As you might expect, O’Malley’s tactics were reversed by his black successors. The next mayor was Sheila Ann Dixon, notorious in Baltimore for having channeled Nikita Khrushchev in 1991 by banging her shoe during a city council meeting and telling her white colleagues, “You’ve been running things for the last 20 years. Now the shoe is on the other foot. See how you like it” [Council tries to mend fences on changing boundaries: Recalling the night that Sheila Dixon let her shoe drop, by Michael Olesker, The Baltimore Sun, March 21, 1991].
In 2006, the A.C.L.U and the N.A.A.C.P. sued Baltimore, alleging a broad pattern of abuse. The city settled in 2010 for $870,000 and publicly abandoned zero-tolerance policing. But people here say tensions persist.
[Baltimore’s “Broken Relationship” With Police, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, April 24, 2015]
Dixon would champion a more limited model of “community policing” and would eventually resign after she was convicted of embezzling funds that were supposed to help needy families [Dixon Announces Resignation As Mayor of Baltimore, WBAL, January 7, 2010].
She was replaced by the current black mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, (right) who now has to walk the delicate line between preserving what order exists in the city and not being seen as covering for the “racist” police by her mostly black constituents. She has called the police treatment of Freddie Gray “unacceptable” and stated, “I want answers” [Baltimore police acknowledge mistakes in Freddie Gray’s death, by Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun, April 24, 2015].
More controversially, while Mayor Rawlings-Blake [Email her] condemned violence, she specifically thanked the Nation of Islam specifically for supposedly helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. [1:20 in the video]
Of course, it’s revealing that the Nation of Islam is one of the more moderate groups involved in the protests. For example, two of the groups involved in last night’s events were the street gangs the Bloods and the Crips, who joined forces for this purpose [Baltimore ‘Freddie Gray’ Demonstrations Turn Violent: Police Cars Smashed, Stores Looted, Multiple Arrests, - Live Feed, by “Tyler Durden,” Zero Hedge, April 25, 2015].One of the key organizers of the demonstrations was Malik Shabazz, who was consistently identified by the MSM as the “president of Black Lawyers for Justice.” However, few identified him as the past chairman of the anti-White hate group the New Black Panther Party [Media fail to identify leader of Baltimore riots, by Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily, April 26, 2015].
With such groups involved, it’s hardly surprising there was widespread violence. Hapless suburban whites attending the Baltimore Orioles game in the heavily gentrified area surrounding Camden Yards found themselves attacked by black protesters. Robberies, carjackings, and projectile weapons were involved in what one person called a “war zone” and pictures are all over social media of fans being attacked by blacks with knives [War Zone: Baltimore Erupts into Violence, Chaos as #BlackLivesMatter Riots Rage, by Matthew Boyle, Breitbart, April 25, 2015]. Fans reported that for a time, they were not even allowed to leave the stadium because of fears for their safety.
Perhaps the most symbolic moment occurred when rioters took down the American flag, and replaced it with a black and white version at City Hal. [Unrest in Baltimore as thousands protest Freddie Gray’s death, Russia Today, April 26, 2015]. The black rioters showed the world that they did not want Baltimore to be a city known for its hip downtown scene and prosperous waterfront, but as a black run city where they are in charge, whatever the consequences.
The problem for O’Malley is that whatever he says now, he was a white mayor who wanted to fight crime and attract businesses. But that’s not what the people on Baltimore’s streets want.
Baltimore isn’t O’Malley’s city anymore. And you just check the new flag at City Hall to see that America isn’t a country for any white males anymore, even those who claim they are “progressives.”
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.