BALTIMORE – It's hard to think of a more volatile mix: Four young black males from Baltimore City, accused in the death of a white female police officer in Baltimore County. Authorities say three of the teenagers were breaking into homes when the fourth ran the officer over in a stolen Jeep.Young people don't know how long the "volatile mix" vaporism (let's call it) has been out there in the media lexicon, often invoked to obscure black misbehavior by equating it with the ensuing white expressions of outrage.
Predictably enough, social media, call-in radio and other forums blew up. A sampling from the Baltimore County Police & Fire Facebook page:
"I was hoping they'd kill him during apprehension. What a waste of life. He's currently breathing air some decent person could be breathing."
"I personally am tired of good for nothing hood rats committing adult crimes and people STILL saying crap like, he had hard times growing up, society made him do these things because he had no role models."
Introduced back when whites might have actually contributed "volatility" to the "mix"--when they were resisting, sometimes violently, desegregation, say--decades ago, it's still invoked now that whites are all but powerless as such, relegated to complaining online. Invoking the platitude the conventional reporter deliberately equates barbaric black crime with the anger it invokes.
Authorities say the teenagers were burglarizing homes in Perry Hall Monday afternoon when Baltimore County Police Officer Amy S. Caprio approached the Jeep. They say driver Dawnta Harris, 16, of the Gilmor Homes public housing project in West Baltimore, ran her over.Baltimore imploded two years ago after the Freddy Grey riots, as police pulled back as crimes in the city increased. Packs of black teens have emerged from the hood to terrorize gentrified and suburban areas.
Caprio died a short time later. Harris and three other youths were charged as adults with first-degree murder.
That the black youths had driven to the county, populated in no small part by decades of white flight from the city, fueled heated exchanges online and over the airwaves.
"After white flight, a lot of people who moved to Baltimore County ... felt victimized by blacks – 'they made me move,'" said Pietila, author of "Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City."Blacks victimizing whites is a fundamental constant of the American street and school.
"At stressful times, all these emotions come out," he said. "These are not logical matters. These are matters where emotions rise, and prejudices take hold."These emotions are invoked after contact and victimization, or in sympathy with others similarly victimized by blacks, in recognition of a consistent pattern constituting a campaign of violence against whites. Not to put too fine a point on it. But it is in fact the opposite of prejudice, but post-judgement.
None of that is important. The problem, as far as the Miami Herald reporter with the Spanish name who reached out to the former Baltimore Sun reporter with the Spanish name explained, is Trump and the demonization of "certain groups":
Pietila is a former reporter and editorial writer for The Baltimore Sun. While city-county tensions have a long history, he said, they now play out in the context of a noisy, divisive political climate.
"What is part of this discussion is the demonization of certain groups that is happening at the national level," he said. "A lot of people who have strong feelings, maybe they used to be more circumspect. Now they let their feelings out."White people are complaining about their victimization because Trump said bad things about Mexicans. Everyone's got their angle--except white people.