A prominent activist who marched for Freddie Gray on Saturday blames city officials for any damages sustained.
“Even Jesus flipped over the tables in the temple,” said prominent activist and Racial Unity USA Founder, Mr. Asa Khalif, referring to the actions of some individuals during and after the justice for Freddie Gray protest yesterday that resulted in physical and property damage around Baltimore, Maryland.
Mr. Khalif, one of the #Philly10 who was arrested last month after a physical confrontation with Philadelphia police officers at a recreational center in the Lawncrest section of the city, refused to use the words riots to describe the unruly scenes that emerged from the streets of Baltimore.
Instead, he suggested that the minor infractions during otherwise peaceful demonstrations was a part of “the uprising,” an outcome of years of oppression, and more recently, the unconscionable incompetence of Baltimore police who forcefully arrested Mr. Freddie Gray; refused him medical attention; failed to secure him in the police van and oversaw – directly or indirectly – the severing of his spine; the fact that he was injured – and ultimately died – in police custody is undisputed.
The admission of negligence by the Baltimore Police Department did little to appease Mr. Khalif, who traveled to Baltimore yesterday for the large scale protests with more than 10 Philadelphians.
“They admitted they didn’t give him medical attention, that’s not a smoking gun because we know they don’t give a f*ck about black lives,” he said.
Mr. Khalif, who acknowledges he’s still grieving the loss of his cousin, Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown, who was killed after he – unarmed at the time – was shot in the back of the head by a Philadelphia police officer, said city officials could’ve mitigated whatever damage was done yesterday had they “made a dramatic statement” like arresting the officers involved in Mr. Gray’s incident, or, at the very least, suspending them without pay.
The idea of Mr. Gray suffering a fatal injury during a “nickel ride” – or a rough ride, as some call it – isn’t farfetched to Mr. Khalif, as he and the other activists who make up the #Philly10 were allegedly subjected to similar treatment after their highly publicized arrest.
“They put us in the van, handcuffed us tightly, kept the lights off and would go and stop often; at one point they didn’t have the car running and we had to pace our breaths so we did have panic attacks,” claims Mr. Khalif, who said he first learned about “rough rides” from his uncles.
According to Mr. Khalif, “rough rides” are a common and widely known police practice, and the fact that Baltimore Mayor, Ms. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and other officials are pretending to be unfamiliar with the unethical practice is “disingenuous and dishonest.”
“They are protecting a rotten system,” asserted Mr. Khalif, who told me he’s “sick of law.”
It’s that level of dishonesty, said Mr. Khalif, which ignited the civil obedience that was on display yesterday.
And in the larger frame, dishonesty and corruption fuels what Mr. Khalif loosely suggested are civil wars, the enemy being America’s policing institutions.
“The war has been going on for years,” said Mr. Khalif, who said officers made a war gesture last night when they threw tear gas into the crowd without a warning.
In war, there’s no rule of engagement, said Mr. Khalif, who added that the properties and persons who were damaged were “casualties of war.”
And, whereas, the war seems to be disproportionately harming citizens – the majority of them unarmed – Mr. Khalif rejects any calls for peace.
“If you’re not speaking against the cops and the politicians who protect them, than shut the f*ck up,” he exclaimed in an exclusive interview with Techbook Online, hours after he left a hospital for injuries sustained to his leg during a tussle with Baltimore police.
But even in a war zone, Mr. Khalif was able to find solace, albeit an unlikely source.
Men who identified themselves as being affiliated with the Bloods rescued Mr. Khalif after he was both knocked down in the scuffle and separated from those he traveled down with. He also met a young lady who introduced him to people around the community.
Mr. Khalif said he’ll be returning to Baltimore within the next two weeks, and hopes to send a message to the Baltimore Police Department and others around the country that they are not the judge, jury and executioner.
“We, as a people, need to get to the point where we don’t allow police to just come into our community and grab residents. We have to hold them accountable. They need to know that we will have our eyes on them.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™