The Baltimore Riots – 1 person’s perspective

Peaceful Baltimore

There has been a photo of a young boy offering a bottle of water to a police officer in riot gear floating around the internet. I was actually on Pennsylvania and North Avenues around the time when the photo was taken and I made a comment on the photo. As of today, that comment now has 17,494 Likes and 280 reply comments.

The popularity of this comment has had my phone buzzing with notifications as people have been inboxing me personally and asking questions on the thread. I have decided to compile my comments into one place so that I can look back at it years from now and remember my passion for these issues. I want my future children to have an answer when the question is asked, “what were you doing during the Baltimore riots?” and “what were you thinking?”

This blog post is for my descendants who aren’t born yet.

April 28, 2015, 2:20pm

I just left this area and there are people, including kids, giving out water, sandwiches and snack – and offering them to the police. Not manufactured for a photo op… really happening.

April 28, 2015, 3:05pm

You should see the comments on the Baltimore City Police department’s Facebook page! I’ve never seen so much open racism! Funny thing is, this is a cop vs civilian movement, not a white vs black situation.

April 28, 2015, 3:21pm

No they aren’t accepting the food or water. If the anger was about race, the riots would have moved to the white neighborhoods. But they didn’t. The anger in this city is deep rooted. Its towards a city council who closed our rec centers and shut down schools, but found millions of dollars to host the Grand Prix (which loss us money two years in a row), tax breaks are given to developer to build up downtown Baltimore, but there are 16,000 (yes 16,000) abandoned houses in the rest of the city. They say the city was destroyed, but it’s been destroyed! This city has never cared about the majority of its inhabitants… so it has very little to do with race. However, Saturday night after the baseball game, violence sparked when white sports fans marched along protesters chanting, “we don’t care,” calling us niggers and the non-black supporters nigger-lovers. But we’re the animals?

April 28, 2015, 3:23 pm

I have plenty pictures from today…

April 28, 2015, 3:51 pm

Of course they couldn’t take the food and water. They are there to do a job. We all get that. The part that makes no sense is yesterday’s narrative. They want you to believe that teenagers orchestrated this riot… but not til the end of the school day because we all know that kids who incite riots don’t want to miss class… really? This was a setup! The most vulnerable and angry youth of this city were instructed to go to Mondawmin mall. The police walked them downtown. They did exactly what local politicians want them to do. They should have had common sense to go home, yes. But these kids were put on the front lines of a war, Set up to be casualties of this war..They want the focus off of Freddie Gray. There is footage of cops throwing rocks at a group of kids, but is that on the news? No. What part of the ‘how to deal with a riot’ handbook does that come from? They started and agitated this, and now the residents of the city have to deal with the aftermath. I’m so angry… so saddened. These kids were setup to start this. The fell for it completely. Freddie Gray’s family asked for a day of peace. Which is why none of the non violent protesters were out to prevent this from escalating. It was the setup of the century!

April 28, 2015, 4:26 pm

No I wasn’t there yesterday. I have good sense. There was a mysterious flyer posted on social media in reference to a “Purge” happening at that mall after school. (This mall that is a major transportation hub in this city. Numerous buses and the subway stop there. Thousands of students and commuters go there daily.) The police thought of this poster as a credible threat, if not, why have an army of officers waiting there hours before the riot was to take place? I saw the flyer at 8am, so I know they had the information. Downtown businesses were closed early in anticipation, but schools weren’t. They could have locked schools down and only released students to parents, but they didn’t. Alternative transportation routes weren’t provided. So now you have a few bad seeds ready for trouble and hundreds of commuters and students standing around. Busses and trains were halted- they are basically stuck. What did they think would happen? It could have been prevented or at least contained, but it wasn’t. As I stated before, this city doesn’t care about a large portion of its inhabitants.

April 28, 2015 4:35 pm

The mayor… I could go on and on all day about this. The reality is there is and has always been corruption and violence from our local officials and police department. Now the corruption and violence is coming from a small percentage of residents (which has yet to be proven. Word on the street is that there were gangs from out of state doing a lot… but I can’t prove that.) The violence and corruption is bad coming from both sides of this thing.

April 28, 2015 8:20 pm

To clean up! That’s why we were all there… not sure why the police and snipers were there – also not sure where they were last night…

April 28, 2015 9:40 pm

http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/how-baltimore-riots-began-mondawmin-purge

April 30, 2015, approximately 12:30 pm

George Louis Vasquez – it seems you (and many others) want this to be a race issue. It is true that other races are killed by police, and if they choose not to stand up and say something, that’s their choice. That’s not my choice. What I was trying to convey is that the reason why the people who rioted were angry, and the reason why they had the mentality of ‘I’m going to get this free stuff while I can’ is because this City has suffered from decades of failed policy – predating my birth. Mayor/Governor/Comptroller William Donald Schaffer created “two Baltimores” starting in the 1960’s. One that was invested in and built up and received most of the City’s funding, and the other that was left to crumble and was not invested in at all. It is very true that the black and brown neighborhoods suffer from 16,000 vacant homes and property values are in the toilet, yet the downtown area has $400K homes. Might I also mention that the CITY owns a large portion of those vacant homes. They have chosen to let them sit and become condemned. Would you buy a home on a block that has 50% condemned houses on it? Of course not. It is only now that the City is selling the homes they have not been able to upkeep for discounted prices with the Vacant to Value program. At this point, the houses have no roof, no floors, crumbling foundations, etc. Also note that in the City of Baltimore, failure to pay your water bill results in seizure of your home. Not turning off your water supply, repossessing your home! How many of those homeowners lost their homes only to have it sit for empty for decades?

Yes, one race is disproportionately affected by what is happening in this city, but that’s not the REASON for the anger. No one is saying ‘white people did this.’ The message here, on the ground, is black men are being killed by police (white, black, and Hispanic police) – police are out of control, black families live in devastated neighborhoods. The schools that black children go to are being shut down and they are sent to overcrowded schools. The rec centers and community programs lost their funding, but the city has found funding for the Grand Prix – an event that is not geared toward the African American demographic – which makes up the majority of the city. Meanwhile black arts and culture events are not given funding. All of these pieces make an environment where our kids don’t feel safe or important – but are told to sit down and shut up. This is how it is. Then when they get the opportunity to act out, of course they do. It’s a cry for help because guess what? The kids with loving homes and abundant resources weren’t apart of the riots.

Our mayor is black, most of our city council members are black, the police commissioner is black, and yet all of the problems we, a predominately black city face are here. Many of you want this to be a color issue – Black vs White. But what it really is is Black. Not vs White. Just black. Conservative white people (from what I can tell) identify with the police, that’s why they have injected themselves into this and made it a black vs white issue, but that is not the narrative of this movement. That is not what is being said around the city. That is not what the leaders are preaching. Standing up for African Americans rights to not be killed, and to have a fair trial if they have committed a crime and working towards building our communities doesn’t make this a racial issue. The racial divide on these issues is being spread by Conservative White people (if you don’t believe me, go to the Baltimore Police Department’s Facebook page and read the comments – and look at the color of those making the comments).

April 30, 2015 Approximately 4pm

I totally agree with you Randy. I’m sharing the other side of the issue. I don’t condone the destruction of property or looting. I hope those who participated are caught and prosecuted. That doesn’t take away from the fact that there are deep systemic issues that lead groups of people to be the way they are and to think the way they think.

My commentary, if you will, is for those who say, “I don’t understand why they are burning down their own neighborhoods!” I don’t condone it, but I do understand.

In the same way Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza, and Colorado movie theater massacre gunman James Holmes maybe seen as criminals, some see them as mentally ill. The rioter/looters never get the “benefit” of possibly being mentally ill or drug/alcohol addicted. (The first CVS that was burned is on Penn/North – and everyone in Baltimore knows that Penn North has a lot of drug addicted people there all the time.) The other side of the story is never told though.

How would you respond?

Often times, we get the opportunity to witness and minister to people and it’s not on a missions trip or in a sanctuary – but completely by accident (and if you’re anything like me, it catches you completely off guard.) The other day, while talking to an associate, she said,

“I love God and I have strong faith, but for me in particular, I feel that God is an observer of my life – I don’t think he intervenes… just watches.”

At first the statement was like a foreign language to me. How could you have “strong faith” but in the same sentence admit that God isn’t an active part of your life? Honestly, I still don’t understand how the two could fit together. I have tons of examples of times when God had intervened in my life and provided for me, or given me peace of mind in hectic situations. I certainly have felt alone when making decisions or when trials come – but that’s because I was out of touch with God – not because He was “just watching.”

So the question I pose today is: how would you have responded to her question?

Only One Answer Matters

Anyone that knows me knows that I’ve been teaching Sunday school since the age of 12. That’s early for that kind of ministry, but I’ve always loved Jesus and would do anything to edify the kingdom. Sunday school just so happened to be what was and is needed.

After over 12 years of teaching Sunday school I was burnt out! So I’ve been on “vacation” for the past year or so, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a much needed break. This Sunday I was in church and the youth minister was out, so my pastor turned to me and asked me to teach a group of 8 students ages 4-12. I wasn’t prepared, but I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me.

We studied John 14: 1-6. It was a good lesson. I really think the kids enjoyed themselves and learned/reinforced a lot. By teaching the class, though, I think I received the most benefit. The lesson I learned from my students is:

ONLY ONE ANSWER MATTERS!

Having a group of students ranging from, “I just want to color,” to “I just want to talk with my friends,” is difficult. So to keep all the kids engaged, I ask a lot of question before, during, and after the lesson. And I realized, every kid, no matter the age, no matter the question, always shouts the same answer: JESUS! 

It doesn’t matter what question I ask, whether or not “Jesus” is the appropriate answer, or if it even makes sense, the kids always yell out Jesus. It’s actually quite humorous but it made me think. Why is it that they always yell out, “Jesus!” And it came to me. 85% of the time, in Sunday school, “Jesus,” is the right answer to the question. The kids know that they have a great chance of getting the answer correct if they stick with, “Jesus,” as the response.

That Sunday school class simplified a biblical truth for me in such an innocent way. The best answer to any question, problem, or dilemma is Jesus. How timely was this realization with the text of the Sunday school lesson?

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-John 14:6

As adults, we complicate things by trying to figure things out on our own, but in reality, the bible has addressed every issue we will encounter and we must first look to Jesus to answer life’s questions. Jesus is THE [one] way, THE [one] truth, and THE [one] life. We turn to Jesus by praying and reading the bible – because the Jesus is the word in the flesh (John 1:14).

.

<script>
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-42603486-1′, ‘wordpress.com’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

</script>

Evangelism?

Hello All,

I’ve been busy, but I wanted to take a minute to write on a subject that is becoming more and more pressing to me everyday: Evangelism. 

A few weeks ago, I was in a store parking lot, and a lady walked up to me and said, “can I ask you a question?” So I said sure. She went on to tell me how she was homeless and how she was trying to raise up enough money to get a room at a local motel to take a shower and get some decent rest.  I knew, and had previously meditated (thought on) on the fact that it is our Christian duty to help those in need – so when she asked for cash, I had no reservations in giving to her and I really didn’t need to give it much thought. 

Fast forward 10 minutes and all of a sudden it hit me: Why didn’t you talk to this woman about Christ? It honestly didn’t occur to me until she was long gone. Since then, I’ve been focusing my mind on evangelizing. What do I say? How should I approach the topic of Jesus with a perfect stranger? Then I came across this:

Today, much of the emphasis of the church is placed on techniques of evangelism or spiritual warfare. We motivate people to witness through feelings of guilt or punishment if they don’t.”

This made me think that I don’t need to figure out a technique or how to approach a person. I really just need to focus on how much I love Jesus & how much Jesus loved/loves me! If I spend my time focusing on that fact, when an opportunity presents itself, I’ll automatically respond, “Do you know that God loves you so much that He sent his Son to die for you and me?”

As if I need anymore motivation to be Jesus’ “hype man,” Romans 1:16 says: 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 

An individual’s salvation is not up to me. All I’m doing is making the information available to them. Whether they accept the free gift is not up to me. And even if I never open my mouth, God still loves me. Isn’t that wonderful?

Hate is the Key…

Hate is the Key to a Loving Marriage!

I read an article once that said the key to staying married for a long time is not how much you love you spouse. The key, the writer said, is to hate all the same people. Hate the neighbors together, dislike each other’s bosses, share discontentment for the same movies, etc. I thought the article was pretty funny and although the level of hate was unnecessary, I get the point!

As a Christian, I would never recommend a person to hate people. In fact, God calls us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31), and to love & pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  The way I apply the article to my marriage is that Satan hates anything of God, and marriage is ordained by God (Genesis 2:24, Hebrews 13:4); therefore Satan hates marriage.

To create a lasting union, hate Satan together. James 4:7 says, “…resist Satan and he will flee from you.” The word “resist” means to actively fight against. If you come together with your spouse to actively fight against Satan’s devices to corrupt your marriage, your relationship will be stronger for it. 

God’s Will for your Life!

Image

Photo from: http://thecrackeddoor.com/Main/?p=1829

Often times, we struggle to find God’s will for our lives. There are so many areas of ministry we could go into; so many jobs we could take; so many other decisions that seem to shape our lives and the impact we’ll have on the world. So for anyone who is struggling to find God’s will for your life, I’d like to share a quote I once heard:

The word of God IS the will of God.” – Andrew Wommack. 

So what part of God’s word points you in the direction of His will for you? I lean on 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18:

15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Once we make Jesus Christ our Lord and personal Savior, if we focus on mastering the items listed above, we will be in the position to carry out God’s perfect will in our lives.