Drug War


Note: The following is dated Monday, April 27 as the mass protests in Baltimore were devolving into a riot that lasted until the early morning hours.

First things first.

Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed.  And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city.   Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard.  All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets.

But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease.  There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today.  But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death.

If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore.  Turn around.  Go home.  Please.

Additional Notes:

Second thing second:  The death of  probable cause in Baltimore.

Third thing third: http://davidsimon.com/zero-tolerance-is-exactly-what-it-sounds-like/ .  So eyes on the real prize here.


  • Having run this one as far as it can go, and having all the fresh comments offering arguments redundant to all of those offered earlier, I’m closing this one out. To everyone who participated sincerely, my thanks and respect. I hope that the debate and discussion produced here gave people fresh grist or maybe even proved cathartic. This is an angry time, and rightfully so. I am glad that Baltimore is intact, and it’s my hope that all those practicing civil disobedience — not merely over the death of Freddie Gray, but over the documented pattern of police violence in Baltimore — continue to press for change.

  • Mr. Simon, good quote from a friend of mine regarding our discussion of your blog statement on Monday vs. your Marshall Project interview (which we both have mad respect for):

    “It is easier to write thoughtful commentary on the past rather than the present.”

    But here in Bawlmer, we never do nothing nice & easy, do we? We always do it nice…and rough.

    Still looking forward to your essay. Still believe in you.

    • Bullshit. The rationalization is yours, not mine. I stand by it all.

      First things first. Don’t riot. It’s going to hurt, not help. You will lose us audience and allies for real reform.
      But let’s continue to confront what is going on in detail and demand change.

      There isn’t a single fucking inconsistency in any of that. If you see one, it originates with your desire for some other message in which I do not believe.

  • The kids out there expressing their anger most likely aint reading this blog post and dont give a fuck about what any of us have to say here. It was politically correct for you to speak out against the violence considering your sentiments on the issue of policing and the inner city. Glad thats out of the way.
    But we all know how this plays out dont we? Cop kills man. Cop is acquitted or found guilty. Some peaceful protests happen and a couple stores get looted. Politicians promise change to capitalize on situation. Change never comes. Another cop kills another unarmed man….cut and past that times infinity.

    Why do you think assholes like Ted Cruz find it popular to all of a sudden speak on criminal justice reform? Is it because meth is on the rise and the poor white kids are getting locked up under the same laws put in place to squash the inner city problem? I think we are on to something here….maybe a few high profile killings of white unarmed criminals will hit the news….maybe then coincidentally real change will come.

    • I’d wager the kids are more concerned about, y’know, not dying at the hands of the BPD.

      Usually I’d be as cynical as you, but I just heard the State’s Attorney’s office is taking over the Freddie Gray investigation though, so…maybe? Does anybody know if Martin O’Malley still wants to have a political career after this is over? Somebody hit him up and find out.

  • “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

  • How are people supposed to get anything? what’s wrong with fighting back? You decry the destruction of their neighborhood. But doing nothing, looking to politicians and business leaders to solve their problems for them is a joke. It boils down to looking to the very same people for a solution who have been destroying jobs, education, housing in their greedy search for ever greater profits.

    As for violence: how many people do the cops kill every year, people who are unarmed. How many lives are destroyed by throwing people in prison?

    Yet, you condemn the people who are trying to fight against that. Very, very sad.

    • Read into the comments some, or reread what I originally wrote. It is unequivocal support for civil disobedience — which is non-violent, yes, but never peaceful. It distinguishes between mass protest and relentless demand for reform and burning and looting. Can any of that penetrate?

      • If it wasn’t for the “anger” and “selfishness” as you call it, nothing, absolutely nothing, would be done. The killings by police would go on forever. And the reason why is that the “anger” and “selfishness” of the protesters is the one thing the power structure fears the most.

        It’s a fight, David. And when people fight, you don’t make the rules.

        • The anger of that which brings mass civil obedience into the street, or the anger and selfishness that co-opts that movement into a burning senior center site and a looted liquor store? Don’t equivocate. I didn’t. I value one and I cringe at the diminished authority and moral force of the other.

          It’s a fight. But it’s rigged. There was as much or more desperation in 1967 Detroit as there is in 2015 Baltimore. What did that riot do? It produced the counter-revolution of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and a national political career for race-baiters like Spiro Agnew, a man who made his bones the last time that North Gay Street burned. And oh yeah, Detroit.

          Detroit. Never. Came. Back.

          For everyone who called that city home, and who cared about it — black or white, poor, affluent or working class — the city was lost. Take a drive through Detroit and then explain to me about why a Baltimorean, any Baltimorean, should stay silent when legitimate civil disobedience goes to burning and looting. All this sloganeering doesn’t give one solid fuck about Baltimore and what happens here for all of us. Take it down the road.

          • Excuse me, anybody who drives through West Baltimore for five minutes knows it’s already been gone & wrecked for a long time, what the hell are you hand-wringing about?

            I had a friend from out of town once call me on his way in to visit b/c he was concerned he saw a fire in the middle of the street there w/ no cops or fire engines anywhere in sight. I was just taken aback that apparently I’d lived here long enough that I didn’t find that unusual at all.

            I’m starting to think David Simon hasn’t read any of the work of David Simon.

          • You are wrong about Detroit. I know the city and it’s history. I lived, went to school and worked there. What the Detroit riots (actually, a rebellion) produced was JOBS and it backed off the police for a little while. Before 1967, the auto industry was still segregated. Blacks were relegated to janitorial or the forge — when they got jobs at all. After the rebellion, — miracle of miracles — the auto companies set up hiring halls in the ghetto. You could get a job coming out of prison even. And much, much more. STRESS, the Detroit tactical police force was also disbanded a few years later.

            I’m sorry, but it wasn’t the rebellion that led to Detroit’s decline. The decline was caused by a combination of worldwide economic crisis and the plunder of the city by the auto companies, big banks and real estate developers.

            It’s really a shame that the lessons of the 1960s and 1970s have been so twisted and distorted, lessons that people paid for with their blood, sweat and tears.

            • Just saw this. Apologies that we crossed in communication. Ignore my pressing you to discuss Detroit elsewhere.

              Deindustrialization was certainly going to impact manufacturing cities such as Detroit. Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit — the rust belt was coming for all of us. But again, be comprehensive and ask yourself which cities have made the better transition into a tech-based service economy? The ones in which grave civil unrest drove white flight and corporate deinvestment to other places, or the ones that managed to duck that nightmare. The entire tax base of Detroit picked itself up after the riots and ran across the city line to Ann Arbor and Dearborn. That’s where the money and the jobs went. You want to bemoan white flight and an unwillingness to stick it out? Okay. But it is the given in the wake of rioting as bad as what Detroit endured.

              Why is Pittsburgh doing so much better overall than say Detroit or Baltimore? Not because we’re still making steel or because anyone is still investing in their manufacturing base.

              I can only counter by saying that you’ve learned the lessons you want to learn and you’ve ignored the ones that don’t gratify your support for a good riot. There is a lot of hard work to reform this country — and I don’t even know if we have the capacity for such reform. But a riot isn’t what won at Selma, or in Gdansk, or in Pretoria. Mass and sustained civil disobedience — which is non-violent, but never peaceful — gets the credit in my opinion. And saying non-violence doesn’t work because it’s hard, and painful, and prolonged is a lie. It is all of those frustrating things, but it can claim more permanent and unequivocal change than violence, in my opinion.

              • I am not glorifying anything, riots, rebellions, anything. But you just asked me what the Detroit rebellion won, and I gave you an answer, which you ignored. It brought JOBS. Get it? It was actually much more effective than what came to be known as affirmative action.

                As for all the other examples you gave: Selma (40% unemployment currently), Gdansk (shipyard closed long ago), Pretoria (the Marikana masscare), you have the same problems as Detroit right now.

                I never said civil disobedience never worked, by the way. I just don’t like people ganging up on those who are revolting against a horrendous situation.

                Finally, I don’t think like a civic booster, trying to compare Pittsburgh to Detroit. Have you ever been outside Pittsburgh. Parts are very depressed, David. And that is because we are in a crisis, really a depression. Trying to blame Detroit’s decline on the riots is truly false reasoning.

                • Wait. Is Detroit awash in jobs since 1967? I’m at a complete loss.

                  The victories in Selma were for national civil liberties and the black vote in the American south. Those victories endure. The victory in Gdansk was representative government itself for an entire nation, which endures. The victory in South Africa was representative government and actual citizenship for a majority of the population, which endures. And all of those substantial things endure without the vastly greater body count that would have accompanied violent revolt. You’re now offering an incredible reach around to piss on some of the finest human political endeavors of the last century.

                  I’ve spent time in both Pittsburgh and Detroit. By every conceiveable measure of urban health, Pittsburgh is doing better than Detroit or Baltimore. And right now, absent a larger riot and due to other geographic factors, Baltimore is doing better than Detroit.

                  • After the rebellions, there was indeed an increase in the standard of living of black people. And the gap between black and white peoples’ income was closed somewhat. For all intents, the high point was 1972. After that, living standards and unemployment grew nationwide, because of the first of many worsening recessions.

                    A little anecdote about Detroit, jobs and population illustrates what happened there. In the late 1970s, GM proposed to locate a Cadillac assembly plant in Poletown, a part of the city that still had a large white and black population, hospitals, churches, and other businesses. The city of Detroit used eminent domaine to force everyone out and vacate the vast area in the middle of the city (600 acres). It also gave GM 20 years of tax breaks, and spent hundreds of millions for the needed infrastructure. It put a great big hole in the city. Today, there is a factory that employes barely a thousand people and a jail.

                    GM, the city government, and all the rest destroyed the city, the population, and jobs.

                    But you as a champion of urban development should be pleased with what is going on now. in Detroit. Because having emptied the city of a lot of its black population, cut city jobs, pensions, wages, the developers are moving in, and bringing their middle class buddies with them. Another Pittsburgh and victory — except for all the workers and poor people who paid for it.

                    • Agree fundamentally with your point about who gets to share in urban renewal. There is a swath of empty blocks around the Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore where the poor used to be, struggling in the shadow of the largest employer in Baltimore. For decades, Hopkins could do little to address itself to the poverty or desperation. Now it is becoming campus housing and biotech park.

                      They destroyed the village in order to save it.

                  • Your examples of Selma, Gdansk and South Africa mix everything up. First of all, the rebellions in the U.S. absolutely were key in winning social and economic rights, by breaking down job barriers in a big, big way., by forcing the government, at least for a time to set a floor for living standards. Remember the days when single men could qualify for welfare? That meant that people didn’t have to settle for the first low paid job that was offered, and forced wages to go up for a while. If you read the history of welfare in this country, you’d understand that is why the government went after those economic rights right away.

                    As for Selma, I don’t want to open up a whole new can of worms. But just let me say that five days after Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, the Watts Rebellion broke out. The Voting Rights Act was a recognition that the black movement was radicalizing. Johnson and the others granted certain things– out of fear of a growing radicalization.

                    • The Watts riot comes five days after the signing of the legislation, which of course comes after the legislative battle that passed the squeezed the Voting Rights Act through Congress, which comes immediately after Selma, which came contemporaneously with Lyndon Johnson telling Martin Luther King, Jr. directly that what was happening in Selma could be a transforming moment. And you want to credit Watts? Whhhhaaaaaat?

                      For the love of all that is empirical, go back and listen to the speech that the President of the United States gave after the footage of Selma — the non-violent, epic and righteously sacrificial footage from the bridge — was broadcast to America. Listen to that speech. MLK heard it and cried. Johnson used the moment at Selma for every bit of political power it had to begin to press Congress. For a perfect analogy to the Baltimore rioting, then research the exact moment when Mr. Bevel, MLK’s ally, encountered the young Turks of SNCC outside the statehouse in Montgomery about to do something ugly and angry for the cameras. You’re blowing it, he pleaded. Don’t blow it.

                      They sneered. The SNCC folks had been through hell in Alabama and Mississippi. They had seen and endured horrible shit. They called Johnson a cracker and said his words didn’t matter. And Bevel looks at them and says, correctly: “The man was preaching.” That, sir, is the precise analogy that I would offer to the imagery of Baltimore rioting amid this present window we have to ratchet down the drug war, demilitarize police, and reduce the prison population. You want to urinate on a statehouse to show your rightful disgust and alienation? Fine. But there is an absolute cost in terms of realpolitik.

                      Offering me riots that happen after the ceremonial signing of legislation that had to be fought through Congress for weeks and months prior in the immediate wake of Selma’s heroism as an influence on the course of events? Is that really the rhetorical hill that you want to die on here?

                    • Watts was not the first rebellion. Officially, the first one took place in Birmingham in 1963, after the motel where Martin Luther King was staying was firebombed. In 1964, there was Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant. Everybody could see that pressure was building. Johnson was trying to get ahead of it. As for Johnson’s speech, many could only laugh when he pretended to be on the civil rights workers side by mouthing the words “We shall overcome.” yeah, he and the FBI. With friends like these….

                    • If you don’t credit Lyndon Johnson with his role in civil rights, then there’s not much else to talk about. He was in no way a perfect mechanism, and he certainly was merely responsive and not the origin of change. But he blew up the political future of his own political party for the chance to use the window of Selma to change the country. He championed that legislation to the absolute political detriment of the Democratic Pary, knowing it would cost them the entire South for generations. I honestly don’t know where else to go here.

                      Read the Taylor Branch trilogy on King. Or the transcripts of the actual conversations between Johnson and King. If Lyndon Johnson doesn’t qualify for a moral moment in American history, then you’re right, no white person can be relied on to operate from anything beyond strict self-interest. In which case, it all makes sense. You can cease to worry about the power of moral suasion and pick up a brick. Good luck with that.

                    • Hate when the thread gets too long you can’t comment directly but Mr. Simon, you really want to die on the rhetorical hill of being the person who would have said “rioters go home” following the death of MLK Jr. in 1968?

                      You are fucking breaking my heart right now.

                    • Inevitability and understanding are wrapped into our collective understanding of 1968. To be sure, Americas inner cities were going to burn after Memphis. And in candor and fairness, those riots allowed African-American citizens to walk with their heads higher after the silencing of their greatest voice. But inevitability and understanding, in the long term, don’t matter to other, more lasting metrics.

                      Detroit was never again Detroit. Camden, N.J. was never again itself. And Baltimore has had a long fall before this moment of precious stability. If the dynamic that has taken hold nationally since Ferguson can’t be pressed to real reform through prolonged disobedience and protest — and permanent, transformational reform is honestly more about policy changes rather than specific outcomes in any single death from police violence, however appalling — then one can plausibly argue that non-violent mass disobedience can’t do the job. And yet it has in the past, time and again. And rioting? Truly a mixed bag, at best.

                    • “…then you’re right, no white person can be relied on to operate from anything beyond strict self-interest.”

                      Understanding the role of a Johnson or Roosevelt in an earlier time period is key to understanding our present time period.

                      It is not a question of the color of their skin, but what interests they represent.

                      Both Johnson and Roosevelt engineered a political turn in response to potentially explosive social movements…. in order to keep the status quo, that is, poverty and unemployment amongst growing wealth and profit.

                      That’s just the facts of political life and how the political game is played.

                      If you’re going to wait on some political savior coming our way, you’ll be mighty disappointed again and again.

                    • No one mentioned a political savior. Political allies will suffice. Johnson was a political ally of civil rights, for reasons both moral and practical. The transcripts of his presidency, read fully, offer evidence of both. All the cherry-picking in the world won’t erase the totality of the historical record.

                      The savior has to be us, collectively. And if we want to see the militarized law enforcement that has its hands around the throats of people curbed, then we need the awareness of more Americans than can be reassured by the imagery of burning and looting. I’m bored and weary of slogans and ideology. I’m intensely interested in any maneuver that stands a chance of changing shit.

                • Since when did the riots brought jobs to detroit? Detroit today is a shadow of its former self pre-1968.

          • Another thing. The rebellions of the late 1960s won a lot, as a matter of fact. You speak of Richard Nixon. But despite the fact that he was such a complete reactionary and disgusting person, under him, some of the most liberal legislation was pushed through, much more liberal than the Great Society. This included big extensions of Social Security and welfare benefits — the very things that people like Nixon decried. And why? Because the government was forced to do that — by the rebellions.

            And if you read the Pentagon Papers, you will notice that one of the main reasons that the U.S. was forced out of Viet Nam was the fear of what was happening in the cities.

            No, David. You couldn’t be more wrong.

            • The reason that America went into Vietnam was because most Americans affirmed for the domino theory and supported the military intervention. Look at the poll numbers right up until Tet in 1968. When the Tet Offensive, as failed a military endeavor as it was, succeeded in shocking the American electorate with the implications of a quagmire without end — that was the game-changer. From then on, opposition to the war went from a plurality to a majority of Americans. And Nixon was obliged to promise Vietnamization and a scaling back of the intervention as a preamble to his reelection campaign in 1972.

              Linking what happened in American cities in 1967 and 1968 to the end of Vietnam — and ignoring the optics of Tet and how it brought middle America to a hard realization about what Vietnam promised long-term — is just absurd. It is quite close to a random junction of unrelated issues. Go on you tube and revisit the moment that Walter Cronkite — the most trusted voice for middle America — walked away from Vietnam after Tet. Lyndon Johnson watched that broadcast and said, knowingly, if I’ve lost Cronkite then I’ve lost the American people. You are overlooking an entire forest of history to stare down a single, remote tree. After 1968 there was a lot of fear of urban alienation for a lot of reasons; that it gets referenced in the Pentagon Papers, as wide-ranging as they were, is no surprise. That you cite that reference to the exclusion of the entire known historical construct by which Americans lost faith in the Vietnam intervention is certainly surprising.

              As to the federal community block grants and UDAGs that followed the riots and provided resources for a slow rebricking of the ghettos and for community programming, that was indeed the result of the rioting in 1968. The government is very good at re-gilding the physical plant of the ghettoes; they threw that bone easy enough. But substantive economic change and a reincorporation of deindustrializing cities in the American economy? Never happened. And as for policing, you got Nixon declaring the war on drugs. To his credit, he upped treatment and education even more than he bumped enforcement during his administration, but of course the war footing was nonetheless established for Reagan and Clinton and Bush to exacerbate so disastrously.

              I’m sorry. I would agree with you, but then we’d both be inaccurate.

              As to Detroit, any reply? Or is the status of a dead American municipality that never restored itself after a culminating riot irrelevant? Don’t cherry pick my reply. Baltimore is not London or New York. We are a second-tier postindustrial city that has lost 35 percent of its population since 1960, with most of that fleeing in the decades following the 1968 riots. We are slowly reemerging with some very recent economic renewal and some very slight population increases. Your call for rioting — not for understanding the riot when it happens, or calling it an inevitability; I agree with such sentiments — but your claim that a riot will do us some good is an ugly and dangerous stretch of rhetoric. Do you live in Baltimore? Frankly, as a Baltimorean, it is fair of me to at least ask.

              • “We are a second-tier postindustrial city that has lost 35 percent of its population since 1960”

                And yet you’re out here with nothing else to say but condemning the burning of a portion of the city that already looked like goddamn Fallujah to begin with.

                Please. Read. Your. Own. Books.

                • Is that really what you took from David’s books? It’s cool to burn West Baltimore down, it was gone already anyway? You didn’t get, for instance, a profound sense of love and admiration for West Baltimore from reading The Corner?

                  • “If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.” — David Simon, THE WIRE: TRUTH BE TOLD

                    THE CORNER is one of my favorite books but it is rapidly going downhill in my estimation right now. My grandma, the one that knew H.L. Mencken, turned me on to it. I’d be real disappointed to have to tell her how its author has suddenly turned his back on everything he ever said overnight but she’s got Alzheimer’s now, so at least I’m spared that conversation.

                    • Heck, I forgot it was on this very blog.


                      But apparently it’s different when it’s Watts. It’s different when it’s Selma. It’s different when it’s Eric Garner. It’s different when it’s Trayvon.

                      If someone, anyone can explain to me why David Simon understands this perfectly when it is happening anywhere in the world other than his own goddamn city, or why the only people who get this schoolmarm lecture instead of a fist of solidarity are his own goddamn fellow citizens, then I’d love to hear it. Honestly.

                    • Good god. Read the quote carefully. I’m praising those who, despite the affront of Trayvon Martin’s outrageous death, did not riot. It is exactly consistent with the post on Monday that has you on a loop. And if you think a good riot in Florida would have changed the minds of the asshole Florida legislators as to the right of citizens to carry weapons and shoot black folk in ignorance and fear, then you really are wholly ignorant of the crippling effect of a riot’s optics on the minds of middle Americans.

                      It would feel damn good for a solid moment. And then, the wrong people would pay.

                    • You think that passage, which specifically praises the folks who can refrain from being violent in the face of great injustice as patient and patriotic, was David Simon telling people to go throw a brick through a courthouse window? That looks to me like someone saying that they understand the source of the anger, even as they disagree with the violent reaction that stems from it. But maybe my reading of it is incorrect.

                    • Exactly. And by the way, it’s a little perverse that kt would drag it forward in any event, given that she imagines a purposed silence over the death of Freddie Gray on my part. That post, and my defense of it, was on this blog way back at the beginning of this run of violence against unarmed African-Americans. But yeah, at least she posted the second part of the quote. The first sentence has been tossed around the internet out of context to argue a hypocrisy on my part.

                      All in the game, yo.

                    • KT, I can explain:

                      you’ve fundamentally misunderstood David’s words that you thought painted him as a hypocrite.

                      It was a simple explanation

              • David, do you think you can post my response to this, with the quote from the Pentagon Papers?




        • “And the reason why is that the “anger” and “selfishness” of the protesters is the one thing the power structure fears the most.”

          With all due respect, I think it’s exactly what the powers-that-be don’t fear. Rioting is handing the racist, abusive, hyper-militarized National Security State a gift on a silver platter.

          It’s fascinating watching people on the left saying essentially the same thing that people on the right say: that justice will come at the end of a gun. They’re peas in a pod, though they’ll never admit it.

          Leaving aside the fact that the violence they seek won’t help them one bit, they refuse to acknowledge that they can never win that way. The State will always be able to out-gun, out-run, out-beat-up, and out-kill them. Look what it did in Waco. Look what it did in Ruby Ridge. Look what it did in Philadelphia in the ’80s — dropped a frigging bomb on a house. If the government has no qualms about dropping a bomb on the house of its own citizens in a densely populated city, does anyone actually think it would have qualms about doing anything and everything else?

          I get that people are fed up. They damn well should be. Cops in this country maim and murder people with impunity. Anyone who isn’t furious either isn’t paying attention or is a sadist. But mirroring the behavior of the National Security State is precisely the wrong way to go about creating lasting change.

          • Where are these on-going riots that you and Mr. Simon are seeing? I’m not seeing them. I did see and join in a peaceful protest march of thousands of people – black, white, Latino, Asian, old, young, mothers w/ strollers etc. – on St. Paul St. yesterday. Of course the national media and the fucking NEWSPAPERS (!!!) that Mr. Simon is using for his sources weren’t there.

            • “Of course the national media and the fucking NEWSPAPERS (!!!) that Mr. Simon is using for his sources weren’t there.”

              God, it’s amazing how one person can be so consistently, willfully full of shit. That protest — and all the other ones — have been copiously reported in the news. Maybe it’s you who’s reading the wrong sources. (And I thought you were on deadline?)

              • Maybe I was busy actually being there (did you come out? Hope you saw my invitation) but I didn’t see a single mainstream media news camera. Lots of independent photographers though.

            • Erm, these large, peaceful protests pretty much lead the news every morning on NPR. I don’t care about cable news and rarely watch the networks, so I can’t speak for them. I don’t think you should expect much out of them, though. All our local outlets have been putting the word out about the solidarity rally in my city tonight.

            • “So, what do you propose? Elect a liberal Democrat?

              Good god, no. Not a Republican either. I’ve lost faith in the electoral process, especially on the national level. If I even vote in 2016, it’ll be to write in the name of Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders. (I believe David Simon disagrees on this.)

              I’ve already said throughout this comments section (but I realize this thing is almost 900 comments long by now) that I believe in civil disobedience. Strong, sustained, relentless civil disobedience. Calling the police to account, taking it seriously when they abuse people, demanding a stop to it, changing the power structure. All these things are interrelated — the TPP, the surveillance state, the trashing of the economy by Wall Street, the outsourcing of jobs, unemployment, U.S. warmongering abroad, so many things.

              • If I get a good third-party candidate with a shot at winning, I’ll vote for a third party to be sure. But he or she has to have a chance at the brass ring. Anyone who thinks there aren’t gradations of bad isn’t even remembering as far back as 2000. It can always get worse, and Ralph Nader taught me that in spades. Mr. Obama exists in a purchased political realm and operates within a rigged game. But there are things that have not gotten worse, and some things that have improved, because he occupies that seat rather than a reactionary.

                If the Republican Party finds someone to the left of the Democratic choice, I’ll vote for him. If the libertarians were to abandon their entire sociopolitical creed and acknowledge the selfishness inherent in calls for liberty and freedom without the slightest nod to concommitant civic responsibility, I’d listen to their fellow and consider his campaign. I’m not holding my breath for such outcomes, which is why my vote is likely for the Democratic nominee. Again, bad is not worse. At some point when the tanks started rolling toward Baghdad, I thought that any sensate Nader voters might voice their regret. But, no.

                • Well, first things first, Nader didn’t lose Dems that election. The machinations of Jeb Bush and the refusal to ever count the Miami-Dade county vote did. Throwing out the votes of any urban district is tantamount to a Republican coup.

                  But let me still take this opportunity to vent my spleen at Nader. I voted for him in 2000. In my defense, there was a purpose to that (getting the Green Party federal recognition) and I was living in New York; I did a vote trade with a red stater.

                  Him running again in 2004 without the Green Party’s support was unfuckingforgivable and the height of ego. I saw him at a book signing in Union Station a couple of years later and I had to restrain myself from going over and kicking him square in the ass. (Nobody wanted his book btw.) Last I’ve seen or heard of him.

                  Thanks for the seat belts anyway, Nader. Dick.

                  • Why blame Nader when this was the Gore and Kerry days. Swift boated and outmaneuvered by ballot counting lawyers. Both just folded when they should have come out swinging. Nader wasn’t the problem, weak ass Dems were.

                    • Plenty went into the outcome. The point is that the election proved so close that any sensate voter has to acknowledge that a scenario exists in which a vote for a third-party candidate that has no remote chance of victory could be a wasted one.

                      My parents were New Deal Democrats. In 1948, my father cast a protest vote for Norman Thomas, the socialist candidate. He wasn’t overjoyed with Truman, but he had reasoned that Dewey was going to win anyway, and this would be his stand against some of Truman’s disappointing compromises. My mother went to bed on election night saying he wasted his vote, that Truman would win.

                      She never let him forget it, either.

                    • Please, John Kerry was the goddamn Winter Soldier and picky-ass liberals let him get dumped on b/c he windsurfs. I give them all the gasface.

                      And I am pretty fucking sure Gore would not have taken us to war over oil rights.

                • What you forget about the Bush years is that he couldn’t have carried out any of his policies without key Democratic support: the wars, the Patriot Act, the tax cuts, the bailouts… etc.

                  You also forget that after Obama took office, he brought several Bush people with him, and that he continued all of those policies.

                  The Democrats and Republicans play the oldest political game there is: they appeal to their respective voting bases by blaming the policies that they themselves carry out on the other party.

                  • Yep. Disappointments abound, some worse than others. Again, a vote cast in this republic — or any republic for that matter — seems always to be a Hobbsian exercise.

            • VOTE HILLARY 2016. Her statement on this matter was a hell of a lot better than Mr. Simon’s (or Barack’s for that matter) and I’d wager she’s probably a bit busier than him.


              This is just a salient clip but the full speech is definitely worth watching. Khaleesi is coming to Westeros!

  • David if you want me to keep it 100% 100 with you right now I will. Go back and look. Apparently during Ferguson I was the one uber-fan of yours on this blog that did not expect you to comment on the BPD at that time and actually defended you for not doing so (I was quite surprised when you responded saying you’d get around to it — NOT surprised when you never did) — because like any intelligent person who has actually read and watched all of your work carefully, I have sussed that you probably have long-term sources in the department, and if you ever actually throw down hardcore for the people against them the Thin Blue Line will ensure that those sources dry up pretty fucking quick.

    Meanwhile my acquaintance in the BPD — and again, if I named him and his position the nards of everyone on this blog would shrivel up and fly away — doesn’t mind telling me in writing that there will be NO CHARGES brought* against the six officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray because he’s seen the autopsy report and they’re already working on concocting their excuses. So I don’t know what you’re so worried about.

    But keep on writing, it might be of some use if you can bring yourself to be honest.

    *At least according to him, but he’s kind of a dick if you hadn’t figured that out already, so hey, we’ll see.

      • When a man who loves to argue as much as you do gives up then I know I’m right. Whether you have too much pride to admit it or not.

        Looking forward to your essay.

          • I must tell you, I’m less disappointed that you were wrongheaded in your timing and tone on this in the first place than that, even after peace and quiet has prevailed and much better information on the source of the riots (aka the police) is emerging, you’re still doubling and tripling down on it.

            I thought you were better than this, or at least more intelligent.

            Now I’m just glad your next work is a period piece b/c you honestly do not have your finger on the pulse anymore. Maybe get out into the Baltimore streets again and actually talk to the people. You might learn something. Worked for you before.

        • David,
          I’m sorry but I have spoken with the invisible internet Illuminati and it has been decided. From this point forward davidsimon.com will now be known as KT.com . Obviously, you have dropped the ball and KT will be taking over as spokesperson for Baltimore. Crabs? Leave it to KT. A story concerning Domino Sugar. That’s right, KT will be fielding all inquiries. Drug war/police brutality/inequality, yep you guessed it, its now KT’s job.
          Now if you don’t go ahead and start forwarding your domain directly to KT, appropriate virtual tarring and feathering will commence. Of course you can stop all this from happening if you give up and concede to KT and promise never to let her down again.
          That is all.
          Thank you.

          • I thought I was lucky to have ONE conspiracy theorist but now the Illuminati is behind my reign of terror on this blog?!?! I. LOVE. IT!

            Sorry to disappoint you though, if there is one thing I still agree with Mr. Simon about right now it’s about the crabs in Baltimore. I don’t know what the best crabhouse is anymore now that Obrycki’s shut down but the man is speaking nothing but the Goddess’s honest truth when he says it’s a Faidley’s crabcake or bust. I’ll defend him on that to the death.

            • Gunnings is gone, too. I travel to Costas Inn over on North Point. But I am unsure of any true ranking.

              • Dang it. I guess if I had to advise anyone I’d say just hit up the fish market and make your own. Although I did see Oprah and Steadman went for Captain John’s Landing a couple of months back.

                Side note: H.L. Mencken taught my grandmother how to crack crabs. If anybody can come up with a better Baltimore bonafide than that, BRING IT. lol

  • You are free to post selectively to what is your own website, obviously–whether based on your specific interests, availability, other demands, personal and professional, or simply whim. But that hardly means that the choice to post when you do or with what tone is of no relevance to assessing your post, including with respect to how selective it may end up seeming in the outrage it expresses. And all the less does the mere fact that it is “just your own blog and no one is obligated to read it” mean that the selectivity of the outrage one of its post ends up expressing cannot be or seem problematic in its own right. That is, in my opinion the chief problem with your post. Yes, reasonable people can disagree over whether ‘violence’ is justified in movements of ‘principled’ opposition to injustice or over what constitutes violence. If your view is–as you have made clear–that it is not justified, whether in absolute terms or just because it is counterproductive to building some other form non-violent disobedience that has a better chance to be transformative then that is fine. (It may even be correct.) But if you are saying that the timing of your post and its language/tone have none of the flavor of Mayor saying “thug” a thousand times or even of the national powers that be immediately rushing to this same line of analysis (with the predictable consequences of working in the direction of stifling all ‘resistance’, as national guards, quasi-militarized security measures, and curfews are kicked off), then that seems misguided or blind to the context into which posts like yours are likely to be received and circulated. (And the fact that you are a semi-public persona who does garner media attention on whatever scale you do is hardly irrelevant with respect to this last issue.)

    Consider this thought experiment: if assessing the possibly problematic nature of your original post came down only to whether those who found it problematic are capable of understanding your stance on non-violent civil disobedience, then there would be little basis for anyone to find themselves smarting at the discourse of thuggery that proliferates at lightning speed the second a bottle gets thrown (and obviously even faster if something more severe than that happens). But clearly, assessing why your post was problematic has to do with more than just that. I think your post was problematic for reasons not unlike the reasons that can be inferred from the following two news items that have been making the rounds the last 1-2 days (both of which speak to the predictable and politically retrograde consequences that follow, by design or inadvertently, from selectively expressing/publicizing outrage at thuggery and/or the “selfishness and brutality” primarily attributed to protesters.)

    1.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZSJlstaNTA
    2.) http://www.thenation.com/blog/205801/right-wing-media-try-spin-baltimore-riots-2016-victory
    “Predictably, the right-wing media are throwing blame on black people and Democrats for the riots, and as usual Fox News is leading the way. So much so that the sanest voice on Fox, Shep Smith, had to tamp down a virtual blame riot on The Five on Monday.”

    • You can assess anything you like.

      My website is about 10 percent of my work product. Right now, I’m on a deadline to shape and complete a six-part miniseries about how an American city tore itself apart because of a basic unwillingness on the part of some voters and politicians to share any part of its future with people of color. It is a look at another aspect of this same pathology, and that miniseries needs to be completed post haste. It is due to broadcast in September. It has me living out of Baltimore and away from my family.

      And thinking about kt’s increasingly obnoxious demeanor, and your complementary post, I now have to wonder what I was thinking spending the time I have working on an essay, posting for people to advance the protests and not burn and loot Baltimore, setting up and attending to that interview with the Marshall Project and then dutifully responding to all of the commentary here. This is nonsense.

      • I don’t mean to be Miss Bossypants, but as a person who has been in the middle of several ill-advised online melees, I think this one has outlived its usefulness. It wasn’t a waste of time, in my opinion, but it’s circling the drain at this point.

        Just an opinion. Shut it down. 🙂

      • I’m sorry you don’t like my tone. Frankly I don’t think much of yours so far either, and if your essay isn’t going to be an improvement on what (little) you’ve said so far, you may as well not waste your time. It’s becoming rapidly apparent that you’re not in touch anymore.

        AH I have nothing to add to what you said but “preach” (hand in the air, eyes closed, head nodding).

      • Agreed, this is nonsense. You don’t have to put up with this. When I saw and read about protests in Baltimore, or generally anything that is going on race/drug war/inner city etc. I usually come here to see what you have to say. If I find you have posted something I go “great”, digest the information, add something useful if I can and then move on. If I don’t see anything from you, I revisit after a few days and then wait until you post something. The sense of entitlement of some of these posters here expecting (rather demanding that ) you post something and/or address every comment or argument of theirs is not just bordering on the ridiculous, it actually is.
        It is privilege enough that someone as accomplished as you takes the time to actually engage the masses, I cant quite understand the sense of entitlement. I’m sure someone that disagrees would come back and say I’m fawning or whatnot but seriously, there are many of us thankful that you take the time to engage us and give us a platform of sorts to voice our opinions. Thank you for that and looking forward to your essay.

      • David,
        You are amazingly thin-skinned. My message simply raised the question of whether there was something problematic about your initial post. I didn’t say anything sarcastic or disrespectful. Yet you try to kill two birds with one-stone by evading the point and instead (to choose one of your favorite words that I recall from the Snowden situation) going in for “ad hominem” by wrapping my comment and KT’s together, so you can call them both together “obnoxious.” That is a convenient trick. But again why the ad hominem? (And no disrespect to you KT. I have found your posts informative and can see the spirit and effort with which you have continued to try to engage. I’m just pointing out that I hardly said enough or anything so moderately objectionable, sarcastic, or extensive so as for David’s attempt to wrap it up with whatever other commenter’s efforts just so as to more conveniently dismiss it.)

        And as for what you say David. I commend you on your documentary and other work. But I never said this website was even 1% of your ‘work product.’ What does that have to do with anything? It need not be 10% or 2% or 90% for the tone and timing of what you post on it to be problematic (especially relative to the predictable context of its reception; with all the links showing how much your comments were picked up testifying, ironically, to that context and just exactly why, indeed, your post should be held to some account for being *possibly* just a tad? or more? problematic.).

        Here is another thought experiment (that will be all the more apt if you have ever been a guest on The Daily Show) based on another thing that is making the rounds (namely Jon Stewart’s little analysis of CNN coverage of the rioting from last night). Nothing I was saying in my original post was all that very different from what he is saying. So the thought experiment is this: I’d like to see you react in half so thin-skinned and “ad hominem” a way to his general line of analysis about media/people with access to the public sphere acting like Cassandras over ‘the rioting’ as instantaneously as it/they did. I’m guessing you would never dare. Whatever “rioting” has taken place to date or that took place before your post justified neither the immediate tone and content of a post like yours nor can it hardly sustain any completely hyperbolic intimations to the effect of accusing ‘the riots’ as short-circuiting the great wave of civil disobedience one might instead prefer to come out of this situation, whether on grounds of a principled commitment to non-violence alone or a pragmatic calculation about what will be effective.


        What I said in my first post and what I say here is hardly ‘nonsense’ but elementary. And it being apt or not as an assessment of your post that has been picked up a lot, has nothing to do with what you also may have said in the Marshall Project interview or anywhere else. Sorry, but no one (or not me) is assessing whether David Simon is really a good or committed guy or whether he is dong “us” the solid we want from him. The assessment was about something you recently put into the public sphere that then got predictably picked up to an effect not hardly unlike what Wolf Blitzer has been unleashing (even if no one, or not me, is saying a post on your website is on the same scale of problematicness as CNN given how many more people it reaches). Finally, not that Jon Stewart is above reproach, but I do know that nothing I said before or now is any more “nonsense’ (as you seem to call it) than what he is saying Just as . I also know that you’d never dare take the tone you do in these comments with him; nor would you dare, I’m sure, act so strangely act put upon if he raised the issue with you barking out to thim “Hey Jon I’m working on a six-part miniseries and did an interview with the Marshall project and you don’t have to read my website or any of the 10’s or 100’s of places the comments i post there are picked up. So, Jon, you are speaking nonsense and you are obnoxious.”

        • Pardon. I thought your comment was in reply to kt and on that same string. The comments on wordpress do not display as a string when they hit the inbox. It certainly seemed to dovetail with the critique as you were discussing the timing and purposes of my initial post.

          Simply put, you are more prescient than me if you can know, while some stores are being looted and while fires are breaking out, that the rioting will have a ceiling of one day, or ten, or a month, or whether the unrest will limit itself to property damage, or four dead, or fifty dead. It seems to me that the only moment in which to say, the protests are rightful but this is not, please stop, is when they erupt. I don’t take back a word of that post. Sorry. It was measured to what I thought needed to be said. Anger? That was certainly discernible. Selfishness? I wasn’t watching looters mixing it up with riot police, or torching an armored vehicle or whatever. I’m looking at people leaving a liquor store with cases. Did I call them thugs? Nope. Criminals. Nah. Did I tell the committed protestors, those practicing real civil disobedience, to stand down. No way.

          The thug and criminal verbiage, that belonged to the President and the Mayor and many others tweeting and talking on the night of the riots. But they were not white, so different rules apply. I get it. But what I said? At the moment I said it? I have no problem standing on it. None.

          As to thin-skinned, I’ve chosen to engage with everyone here. Everyone. If you read back kt’s prolific challenges to my motivations, and you still think “no one is assessing whether David Simon is a good or committed guy,” well, no, that was exactly what she was doing. It’s always funny when someone critiques a reply as defensive when it exists, solely, in reply to something that is, in fact, offensive.

          If you weren’t advancing the same premise as kt, then I wholly apologize. It came over the transom, feathered to her comments.

  • And one more thing.

    White kids in Kentucky rioted everywhere when they lost the NCAA championship this past march. Who does that over a stupid basketball game lose.

  • If this police killing happened in New Mexico or New Jersey would everyone here expect Vince Gillian or David Chase to say anything. David Simon don’t owe anybody anything. He’s not a mayor or Governor. He made a TV show. The greatest one ever no doubt, but still a show. This is real life. That being said, if anyone don’t understand why bricks are in those hands and understand the rage, pain, and all the bullshit black folks live under in this hell on earth country, that is a problem. David is not the problem though and the beef is not warranted really. I’m from Brooklyn, New York and if the NYPD did what they did here i would not want any riots on my block because this is where i live. This is where i shop. People are losing their jobs, cars, homes, etc.

  • I lived in the city at the time Zach Sowers was beaten to death as he walked home one night. Never heard a peep about any protests, or anyone giving a damn about him or the violence that killed him.

    Of course, even if he had been black, no one would have been moved to call for reform.

  • Anyone noticing a trend with David Simon regarding state authority? He may seem like he’s on the side of the downtrodden. But,yeah, nah. He’s all for NSA state-surveillance, he cut bits out of the wire which would help criminals because he didn’t want the cops to get upset. He doesn’t like the downtrodden throwing shit around because they’re fed up with being treated like shit. He much prefers people to protest. Like that shit is working. He likes cops! He does. He admires them. He admires the system which is currently breaking people’s hearts and minds.

    I reckon if Simon was around in the days of independence he’d be a slave-owner crafting the Bill of Rights. He’s that kind of dude.

      • Just a legit thought. not going there? I didn’t see it as trolling. I was thinking it. Balls in your court

          • You end the drug war.
            Imagine for a moment if in Baltimore (or indeed any American city) anyone could smoke crack with impunity.

            Right now?!

            “Dear Baltimoreans, we have decided that you can smoke crack anywhere you like, or any other drug. Get high!”

            Do you really think that would solve this crisis which is just really a microcosm of conflict festering in other cities?

            The city would still be in chaos. Jobs wouldn’t materialise over night.

            And then how do you actually get the drugs to the people? “Even though the city is in chaos, we gotta get these drugs out! Our supplier in Afghanistan is giving us a hard time right now, he’s non-compliant with our demands”

            And then the infrastructure.. The cops. The elected officials. etc. All of a sudden these people who were chosen because they met a certain standard (psychologically) are no longer quite meeting the requirements.

            Well, we can’t sack that guy, so what do we do? Re-educate him. “Jimmy, you know how you were on the drug-team fighting crime? Well, we have a new assignment for you. Making sure our new consumers get the drugs they need”.

            This is a recipe for revolution.

    • I’m starting to see it, yeah. I didn’t want to, but being that he’s choosing to double down on this (and that he never responded to similar questions about the BPD during the Ferguson riots, after promising to right here on this blog) it’s getting pretty fucking hard to avoid.

      Can’t count on your heroes. That’s something I already knew but it’s still hard to see it.

      • I can’t decide whether your incessant hounding of David is disturbing or just embarrassing.

        Get a hold of yourself!!

        • “I can’t decide whether your incessant hounding of David is disturbing or just embarrassing.
          Get a hold of yourself!!”

          This. Thank you, Migelito.

          Shit, I know I’m only half-employed and so have lots of time on my hands, but dear god. For someone who says he/she is finishing editing a book, which one would think takes a lot of time, he/she certainly has been busy with the responsibility of instructing David Simon (and the rest of us) on the proper way to think, speak, and act. A veritable Emily Post of the modern age. Lucky us.

        • If there was another person from Baltimore who had more media heat & was insistent upon doubling down on this I’d be on him or her instead.

          But I am on a deadline though.

  • The Washington Post scoop tonight about a witness statement that Freddie Gray appeared (based on banging noises) to be trying to self-injure while in the police wagon is disgustingly timed to smear the dead. Come on, BPD. Are you fucking serious? This is how it’s going be spun? Freddie severed his own spinal cord? Forensics may now be his best chance to defend himself from the grave. Or will the Medicsl Examiner’s Office provide findings that are inconclusive. Seeds of reasonable doubt have now been planted with the first selective leak to advance the cops’ version of what happened. This feels like the police will work overtime in coming days to stack the evidence deck, knowing that the autopsy cannot definitely pinpoint how Freddie’s life ended. Are you surprised or sickened by the latest, David?

    • Never heard of a suicide in my life that chose to sever their own spinal cord & die as slowly as possible but racists out there are looking pretty desperate for any possible excuse so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this insane and completely unbelievable theory?

  • As of 8:48PM central time, per a report from cable news (whatever that’s worth), they are reporting that the Washington Post is reporting that Mr. Gray effectively injured himself in the van. Probable? Not only no, but FUCK NO. But after weeks of silence, arguably at the behest of innumerable amounts of lawyers, there strategy isnt the higher bar of what’s probable but what’s plausible.

    In the face of, assuming those media reports are to be true, a coordinated legal strategy by the mayor on down the system to attain and create as the narrative that of plausible deniability, should those figurative and literal brick throwers still go home? And if not, what should be their targets when the system that kills and then covers up gives us plausible deniability?

    • There is a years long litany of police beatings by BPD — to the tune of $5.7 million in municipal funds paid as damage — that argues for protest until systemic reforms are accomplished. Freddie Gray’s story is important to know, but there is something systemic here. This is about more than a singular episode.

  • Dumb comment time…

    You know what would be cool? If Obama joined in some of the non violent protests and led them. I suppose the secret service would say “no” but if he was really intent on it, could they legally stop him? Wouldn’t that actually make a lasting impact for decades to come and be a real point where something actually might change?

    Maybe it wouldn’t be “proper” and maybe (well, probably) for some other reason, he couldn’t do it, but I think more than anything else, that would be a total like WTF??? that would shock and change people in a way that might last.

    It would be cool if he waited until after he left office to do it but it would be incredibly cool to see now. Basically, a big, giant FU to the fear of getting assassinated and an even larger FU to the total predictability that we operate with now.

  • I know I mentioned this before, but I lived in the City of Cincinnati during four days of riots in 2001. Here is a link to a Cincinnati Enquirer article tallying the costs:


    These businesses that were damaged were in the most fragile communities. The reluctance of people from the rest of the city to visit these communities after the riots magnified the damage. Other unforeseen costs were incurred too, like a decrease in schools coming to volunteer at the area non profits for service projects.

    Sure, there was eventually some good that came out of it, but the good was coming anyway because of the police shooting that leading up to those riots. I don’t understand how anyone thinks that somehow this violence answers systemic violence, or that these rioters stuck it to The Man, or that they accomplished anything other than damage the very community they purported to speak for.

    I can guarantee you that whites full of privilege like yours truly live mostly unaffected in our cozy green suburbs. We are not the ones who bear the scars of the wounds inflicted by the selfish and senseless violence of those two days. We can choose to visit those areas of town or not. For people who’ve been around awhile, it’s mostly “not” because of the lingering perception of danger.

    How that helped bend the arc of history toward justice is beyond my comprehension, even if I understand the frustration behind the actions. Understanding and condoning are two very different things. How is that not obvious?

    I’m frankly shocked by how many people are willfully misconstruing a plea for non-violence. I guess when you’re a public figure, people feel like they own you. Pfew, thank all available deities that I’m destined to a life of obscurity. Rock on Mr. Simon. I look forward to reading more from you on this topic and especially on what progress you see is being made.

    • Seconding Katie to the nth degree. It’s unbelievable — rather, not — the amount of dick-swinging going at this blog, and by the most petty, willfully obtuse, logical-fallacy-loving set of know-it-alls I’ve ever encountered. And given how much time I spend in the blabbosphere, that’s saying something.

      Hey, David, don’t you know that you’re supposed to be at the beck and call of people like “KT”? That your schedule revolves around his? I mean, you act like this is your blog or something! Get with the program. You’re here to service the fevered dreams and delusions of grandeur of wankers like him.

      You’re a white man, therefore you have nothing of merit to say. Unless, of course, you don’t say anything for a few hours or days, in which case you’re wrong for being silent. You don’t live in fear for your life, therefore you can’t sympathize with those who do. And if you try, well, your white privilege is showing! You’re not throwing bricks through windows because you’re part of the problem. Cowards who hide behind anonymous internet monikers, on the other hand, are eminently qualified to exhort others to violence. And not having to suffer the consequences themselves, they’re free from being tethered to the pesky burden of reality. While they deign to condescend to the rest of us poor benighted souls who don’t understand that a brick to the head will fix everything.

      Honestly, David, if you would just give in to your betters, things would be so much simpler.

      • A) I’m female.

        B) I already have one expose writer on this blog so join the club.

        C) Mr. Simon doesn’t owe me a damn thing. But do I think he owes Baltimore better than this ill-researched and simplistic statement made only in the final moments of crisis? Yeah, I pretty much do & I hope in his heart of hearts he does as well.

        • Final moments of the crisis? WTF? I typed that in the early hours of the rioting before I started driving home from NY.

          Until the riot there was no crisis. There was a goddman viable movement in the wake of a man’s unnecessary death to reform our city and get some justice. Why do you think there was a crisis before the riot? I don’t think prolonged civil disobedience is a crisis. I saw it as an opportunity and I was watching and waiting, like many Baltimoreans, for the response from the city to the demand for investigation and action.

          Your narrative is not the one I experienced at all.

          • David, people have been protesting since the day after Freddie Gray died. You just haven’t been paying attention, as most people haven’t. I’m saying this with love: you’re embarrassing yourself.

            Is the peaceful protest march of what looks to me like 1000s headed up St Paul St right now on CNN yet? My phone’s about to die.

            • Kt, doing the best I can with the life I have. Glad to know you have the seams of the world covered so well, though.

          • And yes, I consider a week of protests over a police murder of a man who committed no crime, that they still have offered no report or explanation for, a crisis. I’m sad you don’t.

          • Nevermind, checked CNN, nope, not surprised.

            Anyway there’s kids out here again but this time I mean 5-year-olds with their moms so maybe everyone keep the incendiary rhetoric about criminality to a minimum until everybody gets home safe.

    • “I can guarantee you that whites full of privilege like yours truly live mostly unaffected in our cozy green suburbs. We are not the ones who bear the scars of the wounds inflicted by the selfish”

      That depends. When one group suffers all suffer (in my view), if you care to pay attention and care which you do by all accounts.

  • Mr. Simon,

    First, allow me to echo your sentiments regarding the senseless acts of violence and destruction occurring in your city. I’ve no doubt the sincerity of your horror and concern at not only what is happening, but how the fallout may very well diminish the noble efforts of those engaged in peaceful civil disobedience.

    I cringe at the media’s focus on the images of riot gear-cladded police and fires. In my little social media universe, the hardliners are already at work posting the crafted images, disembodied from their context, that are not too dissimilar from other images in other parts of the world where chanting ‘Death to America’ may perhaps be their national past time. Compelling images, indeed, that will likely scare the shit out of the Hannity faithful.

    I’ve been assured by a friend, who may have recently occupied the same corner as you, that there is more happening among the peaceful demonstrators but it isn’t provocative enough for television. Some of us are aware, as well as grateful, for the fortitude it takes to stand and face a better equipped force and maintain the grace to simply remain there until the message is heard.

    With that being said and in spite of your original plea, ‘go home’ — the bricks were heaved and the fires were lit. Now what? You’ve indicated your optimism in the recent bipartisan efforts to address the Big Three issues concerning the War on the Poor. I am also a believer in realpolitik so reality dictates that the civil unrest be acknowledged. Do you fear this puts that progress in salvage mode? Given that things have seemed to calm down, at least from my vantage point in North Carolina, do you feel the same despair as your original post implies?

    It’s safe to say that there’s a segment of our populace that will never consent to police demilitarization, and there’s no doubt this riotous behavior will be employed to support their position. To borrow from Mitt Romney’s callous gaff – I’m not worried about them. They’ll never be persuaded. But is it possible, given that national figures having already stated their positions, these riots might help to produce the serious examination and redress we need among a broader spectrum of the citizenry?

    I’m hopeful. I’m curious if you feel my optimism is misplaced. I’ve been following these comments so I’m well aware that you were working on a broader piece when the shit hit the fan, so perhaps you’ve already considered my questions – in which case I’ll patiently mash the refresh button over and over.

    Thank you

  • Dear Mr. Simon:

    The first thing I’d do if I wanted to stop progress in its tracks is give a few chuckleheads the go-ahead to heave some bricks and start some fires. I have no idea if this actually happened, but whenever mass peaceful protests are overshadowed by the actions of a violent few, I wonder whether said chuckleheads are really self-starters or got a wink and a nod from elsewhere.

    As for the Who Let The Gangs Out meme: I live in a city (Vallejo, CA) where a couple years ago a white cop was killed by black suspect fleeing arrest. By all accounts the victim was not just a good cop but a stellar human being — volunteered to coach girls basketball (and took them to the state championship), took in the kids of friends who died in a car accident, etc. The kids he coached — almost all girls of color — wept openly at this memorial.

    In the following year, six African American men died in officer-involved shootings. I know a number of the cops in town and was told by one that they’d heard through their CIs that gang members, figuring it would be open season on them, had a policy of: Shoot first. This at least was the silent justification for why some on the force didn’t wait to receive fire before engaging.

    I again have no idea if that justification was true, but it kinda fails the smell test. it’s amazing what you can get away with when you have gangs to blame.

    Once again tensions between the African American community and the police shot up. I’m involved in neighborhood watch issues here and we were progressing toward a pretty good color-blind regard for each other, looking out for each other, hearing each other. It unraveled pretty quick, but gradually we’ve managed to work back to some kind of accord. It takes time and patience. It takes a willingness to listen, even when — especially when — you don’t like what you’re hearing.

    I understand anger — on both sides. I also see it as the cancer that eats away at any chance to build the trust necessary for meaningful progress.

    Bill Bennett famously lamented, “Where’s the outrage?” I can’t even remember why he was so appalled, but the orgy of bile that’s followed is inescapable. It’s polluted our public discourse to where it’s seldom what you say that matters, just how pissed off you are.

    I believe the unions used to have a saying: Don’t get angry. Get organized. That kind of commitment brought us back from the brink here. Hopefully it hasn’t been catastrophically undermined in Baltimore. I doubt it. The kind of people who hold such convictions aren’t often shrinking violets.

    Thanks for your post and your comments, and your invitation to write.

    • I certainly don’t think the organizers of the protests wanted to see that riot develop. I’m more inclined to wonder whether the police contingent deployed in riot gear made some mistaken moves or offered some provocations to those students. And of course the students themselves were not exactly seasoned when it comes to disciplined non-violent protest. Truth us, they used to give courses in non-violent disobedience before they send the troops into the fray during the Movement. No such orientation possible in these circumstances. My guess is that the trigger for the riot were provocations and miscalculations on both sides.

      • I didn’t mean to suggest any of the non-violent protestors would have secretly facilitated the rioters. Possible, not likely. Rather, those who benefit most from having the protestors invalidated as mere rabble. But again, that’s mere supposition. Your scenario is more likely: those not trained in non-violence responding to triggers perceived or real, and miscalculations on both sides.

        Keep the faith.

        • Yeah, no. They were high school kids, tumbling out of school without a precise plan. They wanted to be part of the protests and then it seems that shit began to happen as they headed toward the mall area. As best I can tell.

  • At the end of the day Baltimore gets what Baltimore deserves. They voted for this over and over and over again.

    When Kansas’s crazy tax cuts fail. And they will, is David Simon going to allow people to blame “liberal policies” for their failure? Heck no, the people of Kansas and their elected reps are to blame, they voted for it. period end of story.

    Cities like NYC can have the argument that the voters don’t care about a percent of the population, so the cops can get away with not caring about them.

    But not in Baltimore. This is the citizens of that cities incompetent mayor. The people claiming they are the targets of this policing are the majority of the city. And if they really cared about changing the police tactics of the city they would vote for one who says they will change them.

    Stop blaming everyone and take some responsibility for your actions. Blame the voters, end of story. At the end of the day they have all the power.

  • Hi David,

    I’m struggling to reconcile the two David Simons that I see/hear/read. One of them’s the author of “Homicide”, the creator of “The Wire” and the man who gave a speech at the Festival of Dangerous Idas in Sydney, (reprinted as the op-ed “My Country is a Horror Show” in The Guardian 16 months ago. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/david-simon-capitalism-marx-two-americas-wire)

    The other is the man who wrote the above post.

    I hear profound empathy encapsulated within “The Wire” and “My Country…”, where your soul seems to cry out for the poor, the “unnecessary”, who have been left behind by capitalism, when you write “somebody’s going to pick up a brick, because you know when people get to the end there’s always the brick.” You hope they won’t, but the tone of the writing suggests that you completely understand why they will.

    And I hear a lack of that empathy in the above post. Not a lack of empathy for the people or for their struggle or for the institutionalized racism and classism that they face, but a lack of empathy for their anger and their frustrated desire to improve their lot.

    How can you write so eloquently that when things get bad enough somebody’s going to pick up a brick, only to turn around 18 months later and denounce people for picking up bricks?

    • Perhaps because I have such admiration for the much greater number of protesters who are taking on the hard task of creating mass civil disobedience and pressing for change in my city. They are in the streets, using civil disobedience — not civil unrest. They are attacking the problem at the point of conscience, where it will be the most vulnerable to most Americans, and not by burning and looting.

      Reconcile that some.

    • Because we clearly don’t have the intellect to keep up with the thoughts of David Simon. He’s a genius – didn’t you hear?

    • i just read your interview with Bill Keller about the Martin O’Malley era of policing in Baltimore and the wholesale erasure of true police work. You spoke of the codes on the street between cop and resident and how they vanished during his tenure. But then you said if he runs for President, you’ll vote for him, nothing personal. What code would that be?

      • Consider as my code my certain belief that the Republican Party will nominate someone who doesn’t believe that dinosaurs roamed the Earth, that global warming isn’t a human phenomenon, and that free markets are the answer to every societal need.

    • Hi Adam,

      I was struggling to figure this out myself and spent some time thinking about this and here’s why I think we are seeing this post.

      I think David Simon cares very much about the city and the people. He has a clear sense and a strong opinion on how things should unfold – mass civil disobedience. At the same time, he was never black and he was never uneducated and so there’s a limitation to how he can relate to the people. He is also a journalist and understands the ways of media and he’s upset that the unrest was providing a reason for media like fox to focus on and taking away the airtime to cover the marches. But, perhaps, because he understands the power of media, he is fearful of the media, which is why it pains him so much to see the rioting.

      (Apologies to be talking about you, Mr. Simon. But, this is a platform where sympathizing people can discuss, so thanks for providing the space.)

      Knowing that nobody can be perfect, perhaps there’s a temper in him that compelled him to write this. Maybe it’s impatience. I don’t think there wasn’t much thought that went into this post because he wrote this while he was angry and in pain. He can preach for non violence to people but i think patience can be preached to him. (if i may critique further.. apologies again.. this is a bit weird, but i’m sure Mr. Simon can take it) I also wonder if Mr. Simon knows how famous he is. He was probably just expressing his frustrations with the kids, but I’m not sure if he foresaw the effect of this post. This post can easily be used by the bigots and mainstream media.. and they’d say “See? Even David Simon thinks Baltimore kids are criminals and up to no good”. This is another reason why we feel betrayed when in reality this could have just been the result of unawareness on Mr. Simon’s part. It’s hard to be self-aware in general.

      I’m no expert, but i believe that if you don’t pay attention to something, then that something loses its value even when that something is the media. People are starting to watch more alternative media and that is hopeful. Perhaps, Mr. Simon still cares too much of what major media covers…. in my humble opinion.

      • Ms. Kang,

        We have journeyed together for a couple days now. And we are as close to agreement on this as we can get. Thank you for your part of the journey.

        I think the post is well more measured and careful than some of the initial repetitions of what I wrote — claims that I called anyone thugs or criminals, or told all of those in the street protesting to go home, rather than the rioters — but that is the nature of the media nowadays. I might suggest that some of my fears about how optics and first impressions carry the day are, in fact, well founded. An old saw says that lies are down the street and around the block before the truth gets its boots on.

        But I can handily concede that my language made you wince, and made you think I was writing people off. I am not writing people off and I am indeed sorry if you got that impression, which you clearly did. I just want to use this moment to win something real back from a policing culture that has had its way with our democracy for way too damn long. That’s it, in a nutshell.

    • Hi Adam,

      I was struggling to figure this out myself and spent some time thinking about this and here’s why I think we are seeing this post.

      I think David Simon cares very much about the city and the people. He has a clear sense and a strong opinion on how things should unfold – mass civil disobedience. At the same time, he was never black and he was never uneducated and so there’s a limitation to how he can relate to the people. He is also a journalist and understands the ways of media and he’s upset that the unrest was providing a reason for media like fox to focus on and taking away the airtime to cover the marches. But, perhaps, because he understands the power of media, he is fearful of the media, which is why it pains him so much to see the rioting.

      (Apologies to be talking about you, Mr. Simon. But, this is a platform where sympathizing people can discuss, so thanks for providing the space.)

      Knowing that nobody can be perfect, perhaps there’s a temper in him that compelled him to write this. Maybe it’s impatience. I don’t think there wasn’t much thought that went into this post because he wrote this while he was angry and in pain. He can preach for non violence to people but i think patience can be preached to him. I mean, who uses words like dimunition to kids who don’t even graduate highschool? this post was meant to be understood by the educated and established people. (if i may critique further.. apologies again.. this is a bit weird, but i’m sure Mr. Simon can take it) I also wonder if Mr. Simon knows how famous he is. He was probably just expressing his frustrations with the kids, but I’m not sure if he foresaw the effect of this post. This post can easily be used by the bigots and mainstream media.. and they’d say “See? Even David Simon thinks Baltimore kids are criminals and up to no good”. This is another reason why we feel betrayed when in reality this could have just been the result of unawareness on Mr. Simon’s part. It’s hard to be self-aware in general.

      I’m no expert, but i believe that if you don’t pay attention to something, then that something loses its value even when that something is the media. People are starting to watch more alternative media and that is hopeful. Perhaps, Mr. Simon still cares too much of what major media covers…. in my humble opinion.

    • Hi Adam,

      I was struggling to figure this out myself and spent some time thinking about this and here’s why I think we are seeing this post.

      I think David Simon cares very much about the city and the people. He has a clear sense and a strong opinion on how things should unfold – mass civil disobedience. At the same time, he was never black and he was never uneducated and so there’s a limitation to how he can relate to the people. He is also a journalist and understands the ways of media and he’s upset that the unrest was providing a reason for media like fox to focus on and taking away the airtime to cover the marches. But, perhaps, because he understands the power of media, he is fearful of the media, which is why it pains him so much to see the rioting.

      (Apologies to be talking about you, Mr. Simon. But, this is a platform where sympathizing people can discuss, so thanks for providing the space.)

      Knowing that nobody can be perfect, perhaps there’s a temper in him that compelled him to write this. Maybe it’s impatience. I don’t think there wasn’t much thought that went into this post because he wrote this while he was angry and in pain. He can preach for non violence to people but i think patience can be preached to him. I mean, who uses words like dimunition to kids who don’t even graduate high school? This post was meant to be understood by the educated who were likely not on the streets. So, we all can ask including the writer of the post the question, what purpose did this post serve? (if i may critique further.. apologies again.. this is a bit weird, but i’m sure Mr. Simon can take it) I also wonder if Mr. Simon knows how famous he is. He was probably just expressing his frustrations with the kids, but I’m not sure if he foresaw the effect of this post. This post can easily be used by the bigots and mainstream media.. and they’d say “See? Even David Simon thinks Baltimore kids are criminals and up to no good”. This is another reason why we feel betrayed when in reality this could have just been the result of unawareness on Mr. Simon’s part. It’s hard to be self-aware in general.

      I’m no expert, but i believe that if you don’t pay attention to something, then that something loses its value even when that something is the media. People are starting to watch more alternative media and that is hopeful. Perhaps, Mr. Simon still cares too much of what major media covers…. in my humble opinion.

    • You mean the fellow that has me telling everyone to go home, and doesn’t even mention the burning and looting? Do you think I should tailor my comments for the dishonest polemicists out there? And, oh yeah, he lives in London.

      Our city is at stake. To him it’s an intellectual parlor game.

      • Now who’s on the “I’m closest to the flames so my voice counts more” tip? Seriously, I love you, you’re a genius, but are you even reading what you’re saying right now?

        You live RIGHT HERE and you weren’t here for the first week of peaceful protests anymore than the national media was.

        You can double down on this out of stubbornness or you can get to the heart of the matter. If you spent less time arguing with frustrated people of color on this blog you might have more time to come up with a more meaningful statement that you did above.

        Never let an unwillingness to admit you were wrong keep you from getting to the goddamn point. That’s always been my motto. JMHO

        • Or you can render your voice irrelevant b/c CNN is already moving on from this story today, now that there’s no more fires or terrified mothers beating their children b/c they’re scared they’re gonna die to report.

          If you want your comment of record to be “hey, 14-year-old black children of Baltimore, you’re being selfish, go home”, well. Your name is your name! (Fangirl moment even when I’m bringing the heat! Can you not appreciate it?)

          • No one is happier if CNN and the rest are moving on than me. All should understand that those images will again dominate if the shit pops off again. That’s the given.

            • So you don’t want the real problems of Baltimore covered in the news with any depth or at any length, despite the opportunity we have right now?!? Noted.

              I’ll revise what I said earlier. Baltimore WAS counting on you. But if we gotta count on ourselves, so be it.

              To paraphrase Mariah Carey, we were yours eternally. But there’s an end to infinity!


              Don’t take it too bad though, you’re still a genius, I’ll still watch SHOW ME A HERO, but I might bootleg it. But you already know HBO is gonna cancel it so no big deal.

              Tip from a fan on the way out the door btw…when they do cancel it, instead of convincing yourself that hoi polloi isn’t smart enough or caring enough to understand you, consider having your people look into the fact that HBO doesn’t promote your shows to young people (TREME doesn’t even have a Twitter account) or people of color (especially African-American and/or Spanish-speaking people, despite the fact that Oscar Isaac is a huge star in the Latino community and is one of the goddamn leads of STAR WARS). But they sure will be happy to make that sweet syndication money off of selling it to international and/or people-of-color-focused networks post-cancellation just like they sold THE WIRE to BBC and BET for a pretty penny.

              I still got love for you even if you don’t have love for the people anymore.

              Namaste, brother. Regardless of our differences let’s hope for another quiet night tonight.

        • I was cutting film on the Yonkers project in New York, on a deadline to deliver six episodic hours to HBO. Everything I’ve read on Freddie Gray, the protests, and the run-up to the riot has been online or in the NY newspapers. Are you now taking attendance on the protests? Can this get pettier? I hope not.

          • By “you weren’t here” I mean your voice wasn’t here. And you more than anyone else should know not to base your opinion and start spouting off on what you read in mainstream newspapers. Come on.

            Again: there’s loving an argument and then there’s being so unwilling to admit you were wrong that you are arguing against your actual self and your own philosophies — !!! Consider it.

      • Actually, since this seems to be important to you, that Guardian writer lives in New York. But whatever. More importantly, what do you make of his criticisms of you, and your privileged status as “translator” of urban black America. Do you have any thoughts on that?

        • New York = London. Precisely. New York makes perfect sense for the source of that kind of click-bait bullshit.

          Here’s what I wrote to another fellow from the U.K. that saw the rioting as not merely inevitable, but an affirming step in the right direction:

          “I wasn’t thinking or suggesting otherwise with the comment, but I have noticed in the last two days that those who see some plausible gain from the riots overall, or their necessity — and not merely their inevitability — tend to be from two cohorts. There is either an argument predicated on racial status — meaning, African-American commentators who see the action as a forced move based on the singular circumstance of those rioting. These commentators are from Baltimore and elsewhere, but generally American. Or white male commentators who are not from Baltimore and often from quite far away. Most of those who do not want to see Baltimore burn are both black and white and largely from Baltimore. I am generalizing, but that is my sense.

          Here’s my heart. If you compare, say, the London or the L.A. riots and you think it gives you some thread for what is going to happen if Baltimore were to burn more badly than she is, I would suggest that you are lost in apples and oranges. London, or New York, or L.A. are international cities. Their ghettos could burn for days and short of a couple dirty bombs being delivered as well, their status would not change significantly. Their economies would rumble over the setbacks and their population would be retained.

          Let me tell you about the city that you are, I think, abstractly, contemplating in the light of the historical use of unrest or force to achieve forward progress in human affairs. She has lost 40 percent of her population since 1960 because of continued white flight, and the greatest share of that happened after the 1968 riots, the scars of which are still evident everywhere from Pennsie to Gay Street. Moreover, she has lost most of her industrial base, so that there is, without doubt, less reason to presuppose her restoration after the trauma of civil unrest; industry, being less factory based and more mobile than in 1968, has even less reason to reestablish itself in the wake of mass unrest here. Only in the last decade has Baltimore stabilized itself in terms of population loss and right now there is even a small boomlet that is the result of her affordability for East Coast residents seeking an urban culture who are now priced out of D.C. or N.Y. Baltimore — for all of its residents, black and white, working class or affluent or poor — has, after a long fall economically, started to stabilize and improve. But if you think we are still anything other than a second-tier city that can be dropped by transient economic and cultural trends should we implode racially and violently, I’d ask you to look at Detroit.

          The riots in Detroit in 1967 were unrest that was as inevitable and as righteous in their origins as anything you can conjure for Baltimore. On a national level, at that time, they were not unique, merely fierce by comparison with some cities that burned in 67 and 68. And Detroit did not come back. The threshold for losing a city to racial strife and economic abandonment is closer than you think for second-tier, post-industrial cities. And there is no one who knew or loved Detroit who will for a moment buy into your notion that a riot might be just the thing to make anyone’s circumstance better. They know too much.

          Baltimore is not London or New York or Chicago or Paris. It’s threshold for survival is not as fixed and certain as those places. And for those trapped in the American underclass who inhabit a failing American city — think Detroit, or Camden, N.J. or Gary, Ind. — their lives are still battered by the same racial and class affronts that greet the poor everywhere in our society, but added to that is the crushing economics of broken economies and cities that can’t restore themselves as a whole. Stakes are higher here than where some people are writing and philosophizing from. And Baltimore has already been through a lot. I was out on Pennsie and North the morning after the riot with people, black and white, who were quick to pick up trash and hoping to deny all those television cameras more desolate and appalling imagery. And all of us understood why.

          See if any of that can be factored into the political and social equations that argue for the benefits of a period of civil unrest.”

          As far as a privileged translator of anything, I’m a writer. Long ago I was assigned by the newspaper that hired me to cover crime in Baltimore and I got interested in the things I got interested in. My racial status has been a source of critique of the actual substance of my work since I began. It’s inevitable freight. If the work stands, then the work stands. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. The work is what tells.

          But I will say this, I also live in Baltimore. If a Baltimorean, who is white, takes to a blog in the heat of an ongoing riot and expresses unequivocal support — and it was unequivocal — for the ongoing civil disobedience and for the demands for answers and reform, and then pleads for an end to burning and looting, and some dilletante from New York or London rushes up to play the white privilege card, what do you think about that? I think that fool has just extended the otherwise valuable critique of white privilege to a point where it means jack shit. He’s drained anything that matters frm the very phrase.

  • Mr. Simon,

    I just want to thank you for always striving to provide thoughtful insight and dialogue. Thanks to the commenters as well, since reading this has been the best coverage into whats going on in Baltimore right now that I could find.

    I live in Cleveland, a couple streets ways from where Tamir Rice was killed. Its incredibly humbling to think about how easily this could have or still could happen in Cleveland.

    I have no answers or arguments, only would like to say that Cleveland and other cities torn apart by similar issues are watching and we want your voices to be hear and change to begin to happen.

    Thank you.

  • Those advocating and participating in the burn are falling right into the hands of the Koch brothers and their ilk who fund believers in Reaganite southern strategies, the 784 hate groups documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the just plain ignorant who allow organizations like the NRA to get away sowing the fear of the “race war”.

    Its disheartening to read prominent Black writers and entertainers justifying the burn. Being fed up shouldn’t be an excuse that empowers those fools.

  • David,

    An acquaintance of mine posted this, and I wanted to get your thoughts since you’re both Baltimore residents.

    “Baltimore has been run by Democrats for 50 years with now a black Mayor, black police chief, and a police force that is half black.

    This is a protest not against racism, but against the abuse/corruption of those in power that see themselves as better than those that they are sworn to serve.

    p.s.–If your City is a sewer give thought to voting for another Party or way of doing things because what you been doing for 50+ years ain’t working”

    I will say, his second sentence can be said about all politicians.

  • Were people really talking about The Wire, relating to the protests, and that it was Season 6!? Was that a thing? I really didn’t know that – I try to avoid as much 24/7 news as possible. I just found out after reading Alyssa Rosenberg’s Post piece, just now. She seems to cherry pick a little, and miss a few points, my opinion. What are your thoughts? I’m sure you finished it over some coffee… hopefully you didn’t spit any out!

    • Can’t stand that flippant, moronic shit. Every fresh trauma or tragedy is followed by some fool’s tweet about season six. These are the wages of a world in which short bursts of snark and weak humor pass for human discourse.

  • Hello Mr. Simon,

    I’ve read a lot of impassioned arguments online, recently and ever since last autumn, and it’s been so hard to tell what’s Right and Wrong. These are foggy times, especially since some are saying Martin Luther King’s doctrine is outdated, people need to fight back, etc in such a fervent manner, I’ve almost believed them. Just wanted to genuinely thank you for shining some light and reminding me that goodness and truth and nonviolence are still the way. Watching you methodically dismantle people’s shitty logic in the comments section has also been a treat.

    Be safe and thank you again,
    Eugene, New York City

  • Mr. Simon, what it boils down to is that while you are not technically inaccurate to say what you said above, you need to say MORE — and fast — or you risk losing your status as a Baltimore spokesman. And as I’ve said, Baltimore is counting on you (people on social media have been asking “where is David Simon?” for ten days now) so we cannot have that happen.

    You have to understand that it is extremely disappointing that this is the first & only thing the public has heard from you on this. You don’t even really need to write anything new, simply reiterate the truths you’ve stated many times in your work — which people chose not to focus on because they were too busy debating whether Omar or Stringer Bell is the coolest.

    I am pretty sure when the Trojan War hit Cassandra did not waste a lot of time arguing about “these Greek looters need to go home” because everyone already knew that. She was more like “I fucking told you guys”. Just saying.

    • Excuse me? Regroup there kiddo.

      I claim no status as spokesman for anything other than myself. Me only. These are my opinions, issued on my blog because they interest me.

      Secondly, I post stuff when it’s finished and I have obligations, both professional and personal — I have a four year old in my care right now — that preclude me meeting your deesired timetables or anyone else’s, sorry. If you’re waiting for me to finish writing something so that it can alter or improve my status in your eyes, get a grip. I have no status other than as someone who says what he thinks at certain points when he is ready to say it as best he can. If you need more on Freddie Gray go to the Marshall Project site. They have a Q-and-A up now that I did yesterday morning.

      • All due respect: riots and protests don’t operate on anyone’s timetable either.

        And I didn’t say you claimed any status. I’ll clarify: that status has been projected upon you because very few people have ever had both a kind and an intelligent word to say about Baltimore. (Go on and tell me whenever shit goes down in this city your phone doesn’t blow up. I probably won’t buy it, but you’re the only one who would know.) Whether you choose to use it and when is up to you, but I maintain that the first word coming from you being “looters go home” was disappointing.

        I apologize for getting het up though. In my defense, I did wait a week and a half (which is not an insignificant amount of time in these circumstances) watching people post “Where is David Simon” over and over again on social media before I said that. Also, I have a lot of time on my hands to fret about shit now that I’m stuck inside as of 9:45 p.m.

        Family does come first. And the Q&A is excellent. That’s the stuff. Spreading that one far & wide.

        P.S. “I know I sound like a broken record, but we end the fucking drug war.” Don’t worry about the broken record part. Goddess knows SOMEONE’S got to keep saying it until something changes. That was my point.

      • Mr. Simon,

        There’s millions of Americans who will, for free, do just about anything to facilitate your output of work. So give the kiddo a break — irrespective of your humble claims (of not being a spokesman), America needs its most perceptive voice of urban society!

  • Well… let me vent back a liitle as well:
    YOUR complacent way of life and your freedom was the result of fighting with rifles and cannons.
    How about the freedom of others, Not belonging to your privileged group? Start and Walk for just a mile in their shoes.
    Yeah great advice: let them ALL go home and be QUIET. VERY QUIET! What more should we be doing for these people to at long last Know and Accept Their PLACE….huh? Will they EVER learn?
    Going home means that police intimidation brutality and LYNCHING BY LAW will continue. LE is never ever held accountable for any wrongdoing. So Grand Juries ( keep acquitting cops who testi-LIE and falsify their statements) have created untouchable Teflon cops who can just go on with their reign of terror.

    It’s about time. Time for freedom and justice for other people… those who have not yet in this glorious “Land of the Free” been given freedom. Because segregation and ingrained racism still are very much alive throughout the nation and WITHIN Law Enforcement who does NOT serve snd protect but brutalize and kill behind their badge.

    This is the era of the New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander) and freedom is a necessity for many.
    And if this freedom should be gained with a brick in hand: SO BE IT.
    Great material to write an exhilarating new TV-series which will outshine The Wire! Take a deep Dive into the underbelly of the brick throwing community and those who have their spine snapped by police violence Can’t wait to see it.

    • You are being dishonest with what I said. I said let the ones with bricks in their hands go home, let the rest of those engaged in mass civil disobedience stay in the damn streets. That’s what I said, not what you want some straw-man David Simon to have said. Stop venting bullshit. And realize that you lose me when you begin by lecturing me about conjuring the perspectives of others not in my cohort; I’ve spent the last thirty years of my life doing pretty much that on a professional basis.

      • Mr. Simon:

        I am not one to hero worship or put someone on a pedastal, but you are one of my favorite social commentators. You know what you are talking about. You speak with the voice of someone who knows the criminal Justice system and the local politics of Baltimore.

        This situation is more complex than “white priveledge” vs. minorities. There are some deep seeded structural issues (war on drugs, erosion of fourth amendment, easy access to guns, broke education system, etc..) in our society that come together in a perfect storm of rioting and civil unrest. I don’t know why some of your opponents (on this board) think it is so outlandish that looting and burning reinforces the system that the rioters despise. Ghandi brought down the British Empire with non violence and the British were more than willing to kill to stay in power. It is conceivable and provable that civil disobedience can shock a country out of apathy and create the changes needed in our society.

    • I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how burning down a senior center or damaging property in already struggling part of town is going to win freedom for anyone.

      • I don’t think anyone is saying riots are totally awesome and the way to liberation, are they? I believe we’re saying that while it’s extremely unfortunate and of no benefit to the community, it’s understandable given all the circumstances, that we’re uncomfortable with desperate 14 year old kids being called “thugs”, and that making your first critique about that is looking at the symptom and not the cause.

        JMHO. But y’know, I’m biased!

          • And you don’t think you have any responsibility for provoking that by waiting to make any comment until after the city was burning? As I recall some people on this blog were still waiting for your comment on the BPD from back during the Ferguson riots. Interesting.

            • Kt, you are under the mistaken impression that this is my job. I’ve spent the last six months in Yonkers on a film set, or one weekends, attending to a young child. I didn’t comment on ANYTHING here in that period. Look at the date on the posts.


              • I’m putting a five-volume textbook I’ve been editing for 3 years to bed this week and I can’t work overtime (as I had planned) b/c of the fucking curfew. You don’t hear me complaining.

              • As someone that rarely agrees with your position, finds you occasionally hypocritical, and has had elementary (on my part) arguments on this site, I respect the hell out of you. I find it surprising that so many people are having a hostile, personal response towards your post, and find it absolutely comical that some feel that you owe them more – more columns, more appearances, more shouting, more voice that agre with their opinion. Fuck that. You owe no one anything. Baltimore is your city, and you’ll address the current issue ( or could choose not to, but have already indicated that you will) when you’re damn ready, It would be an injustice to your true credibility to rush something out before you’re truly finished, before you have all the facts and structure needed to satisfy your thesis. To suggest otherwise is selfish and ignorant, blind to who you are, what you do, and what this site’s platorm simply is.

                • Baltimore is A city. It’s not Mr. Simon’s city. If he chooses to speak in support of it we love him & if not he can get to steppin’ like Don Lemon and all the rest.

  • […] For decades we’ve heard about citizen journalism, but this was something more: It was a sort of hive knowledge, a swarm response. One of its more amazing expressions was that almost as soon as the riots escalated to looting and arson, Baltimore natives started to contextualize the violence, describing their own experiences but also pointing at academic papers and poverty statistics. Even David Simon, creator of The Wire, weighed in. […]

  • MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign must be revived. That’s what Occupy Wall Street was missing. The racial piece.

    Imagine then, if #BlackLivesMatter and #WeAreThe99% ever overlapped into a revival of that campaign. But the 99 thing lost steam because of the amorphousness of the goals, and I fear the current movement will lose steam because of the amorphousness of proposed solution. But I think this is the solution to all of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7kNz8FDGUAM

    • I can only speak to my personal observation of Occupy Baltimore and Occupy DC which were pretty quickly highjacked and dominated by white anarchists (Baltimore much more quickly than DC). But I’ve already got a migraine so I don’t know how much we want to get into that.

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