First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are extended to those who are experiencing fear and loss during this troubling time, especially the families of Mr. Freddie Gray and first responders and officers. As a former resident of the city of Baltimore, it is very sad and unfortunate to see the destruction taking place by irresponsible individuals. After living there for 30-plus years, I understand the trials and tribulations that the city has undergone, and I have witnessed the stress and issues of many families whom I have served in the operating room. With all of this in mind, it is vital to remember that the best way to create positive change is through peaceful conversation, productive dialogue and policy ideas that display a commitment to resolution.
When rioting and looting occurs in instances like this, I cannot help but think how important it is to get police involved early on in the community so that the first encounter a young person has with a police officer is not a hostile encounter. That is the type of thing that will make a huge difference in this country. The police have to acknowledge any shortcomings, and if there is unfairness, we need to look at it and improve upon that. Objectivity is the real answer. In order to get there, we have to be able to sit down at a table and have an intelligent conversation rather than getting to our respective corners and demonizing each other. We need to create relationships. Relationships are key to resolutions of problems.
Also, let us consider how counterproductive it is to riot and destroy property. Many have a lifetime of hard work invested in businesses that were destroyed in minutes. These are our friends, our neighbors, and fellow citizens who continue to work hard and long to make a living as small business owners. They serve our communities in ways which we all rely upon. There is such a thing as right and wrong. Let us not allow the forces of evil to control us based on angry reactions. We can do much better. Furthermore, destruction of property will lead to expenditures that could have been allocated towards substantial policy goals, such as social and educational programs that can uplift members of the community. Businesses that provide jobs and facilitate growth in the economy are being destroyed. This is truly senseless.
I urge parents, grandparents and guardians to please take control of your children and do not allow them to be exposed to the dangers of uncontrolled agitators on the streets. I pray that the city’s young people observe this situation as gross misconduct and that they embrace the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”