As another American city saw anger, protest and violence erupt this week, I started thinking about the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, more than two decades ago.
Remember how crazy and unfathomable that was? A major U.S. city erupting in violence, the police powerless to stop it, all over the mistreatment of an African-American man by police, who got away with it. Looting, fires starting, violence against ordinary citizens and their businesses.
To my fellow Gen X members, it was like something out of the 1960s, and surely would be remembered as a seminal, one-time kind of event.
Now, a U.S. city gets set aflame and it’s almost commonplace. Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, Md., and who knows, if that officer in Charleston, S.C. gets acquitted, they’ll bet next.
This is going to keep happening, folks. Whether it’s Baltimore or anywhere else, you can only keep an oppressed class down for so long. You can only enact policies that significantly economically hurt poor people, and people of color, for so long. You can only continue to neglect the inner cities when it comes to affordable housing for so long.
And most importantly, you can only have members of a police force completely and thoroughly abuse and take advantage of their position to injure, or let die, African-Americans who are either under arrest or about to be.
I have absolutely no sympathy for the morons setting fires in Baltimore, and throwing rocks at police (for a bit of dark humor, check out this clip of a Mom who saw her son throwing rocks at cops smack him around on TV). Those are not the people who deserve support and understanding.
It’s the law-abiding citizens trying to live their lives, and simply protest what continues to be, for decades now, the neglect and mistreatment of the underprivileged who live among us, in our towns and cities.
This is going to keep happening, unless there are wholesale changes in our economic and more importantly, criminal justice systems. Our political leaders have the power to stop this, to keep American cities from burning up.
Listen to that clip (above) of a Baltimore city councilman; he’s speaking 100 percent truth. “This can erupt anywhere in socially economically deprived America,” he says.
I’m normally an extremely optimistic guy, but I’m not feeling too confident that Baltimore is the last American city we’ll see in flames.
**Next up today, a story on a much lighter note. The University of Nebraska-Omaha isn’t a national power in athletics, but they are certainly contributing to the history of fun stuff that happens at sporting events.
How? Well, at their brand-new ice hockey rink set to open this fall, the school has teamed up with a local business to create the world’s first Taco Cannon.
That’s right, we don’t need your stinking T-shirt cannon anymore, we’ve got meat and cheese flying through the air at 50 miles per hour!
Good God. Can you imagine getting hit in the face with one of these things? And the tacos will be wrapped, right? And who would want to eat food that’s shot 100 feet through the air out of a cannon, wouldn’t it lose its flavor as it travels through the mezzanine section?
A taco cannon is a wonderful lawsuit waiting to happen, isn’t it?
**Finally today, news came Tuesday night that the iconic singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell was fighting for her life, unresponsive and in a coma.
The 71-year-old collapsed in her home last month, but was reportedly doing better.
Man, Joni Mitchell was the soundtrack to so many lives. I was very late to the party, only “discovering” her music a few years ago, but I’ve played “The Circle Game” and “Both Sides Now” for my baby son plenty of times already.
She has a passion for music, and a beautiful way of expressing those emotions, as few others could do.
The world still needs her.