by Glen Ford
“Even when police are in ‘hot pursuit’ of a criminal suspect, they cannot treat a whole neighborhood like criminals.”
The Baltimore police department seems to have learned nothing from the civil disturbances that rocked the city after Freddie Gray died in police custody back in 2015. Six cops got off scot-free for killing Gray -- which seems to have led the police to conclude that they can treat the Black community as a Constitution-Free Zone, where anything the cops do is legal.
Baltimore is 63 percent Black. Its elected officials are mostly Black, and its police force is majority Black and Hispanic. So, what we’re seeing in Baltimore is how a plantation operates when the white folks leave the Black overseers in charge. What we find is, the Black Misleadership Class and the Black police are nothing more than servants of white supremacy, and have no respect for the rights of Black citizens.
Last week, a Black police detective was shot to death in the Harlem Park section of west Baltimore. The police declared the entire neighborhood a “crime scene” and locked down every street and sidewalk for blocks around. Residents were patted down, coming and going into the neighborhood, and required to show little pieces of paper from police vouching that they were residents. If you couldn’t show you lived in Harlem Park, you couldn’t get in, even to visit relatives. Checkpoints were everywhere, and residents were questioned, over and over again, about the identity of the shooter. All this is blatantly unconstitutional – which means, it’s a massive police crime against the people. As the local American Civil Liberties Union said, even when police are in “hot pursuit” of a criminal suspect, they cannot treat a whole neighborhood like criminals. Constitutional protections cannot be suspended for the convenience of police investigators. For that, you need a declaration of martial law. When the cops designated all of Harlem Park a crime scene they were, in effect, declaring the neighborhood to be outside the protection of the U.S. Constitution.
“The Black Misleadership Class and the Black police are nothing more than servants of white supremacy.”
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, a city, or a nation that is partially Constitution-free, cannot stand. From the founding of the United States, to the Dred Scott decision, through a century of Jim Crow injustice, U.S. police forces have treated Black communities as outside the reach of Constitutional law. The so-called War on Drugs saw the designation of large sections of U.S. cities as drug zones, within which everyone was considered suspect, simply by virtue of their presence. In some cities, the entire Black community is located within these designated “drug zones.” That means, the Constitution does not exist for Black people in those cities.
Many of these urban areas proudly call themselves “sanctuary cities.” Sanctuaries for whom? In Baltimore’s Harlem Park, for almost a week, there was no sanctuary from the armed and dangerous gunmen in blue. And, if the cops can take your rights away any time they feel like it, then you never really had those rights at all.
The dragnet is said to have ended in Harlem Park, but the Constitution is definitely not in effect.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go the BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]