“GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH”, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Freddie Gray

I watched a video segment of the news in April 2015 which covered the after effects of the Baltimore riot in Sandtown. The video showed black people, with the exception of one person, cleaning out a CVS store which had been burned and looted the day before and sweeping the streets. The people doing it rationalized their volunteer work by claiming that they were helping to keep ‘their city’ clean.

There are several sad things about the news piece. To know and understand that our people living in Sandtown, Baltimore, where the protests occurred, receive no financial return for all the money that they spend in the city belies the heart of the problem.

Those individuals have now cleaned up a section of the city streets in which they do not own title to any of the property despite the fact that they and their families have lived in that area for over 100 years. They are all tenants subject to the will of the landowner.

As they cleaned the veneer of that section of the city I could only think that something toxic remains deep inside the city. That toxicity is such that no amount of street sweeping, painting, and government programs can clean it out. That toxicity will remain deeply embedded in Baltimore because it, like a waterfall of waste, rains down on the mass of dispossessed people from the very centers of political and corporate corruption.

Black people in Baltimore have no vested interests in the city. The African American community has have been set up over the last 2 generations in that post industrial post modern city to be pushed out. Our people cannot read the hand writing on the wall: “get out”.  Black neo-liberals will not read what is written on the wall and communicate it to black people in Baltimore. Nor will they translate what it means to them.  

The political structure of the city is intact because Baltimore black politicians remain loyal to their corporate Democratic National Committee or Republican Party monetary benefactors. The infrastructure of black communities, however, suffer. Black communities are as dysfunctional as social infrastructures in the nation of Haiti. The infrastructure has been the victim of criminal negligence.

But instead of the power elite in the state of Maryland and in the city of Baltimore properly defining the overarching social problems faced by black people there they have resorted to categorizing the black population as a ‘thug’ community. It is clear that white supremacists have a plan.

Sandtown and its surrounding blocks in Baltimore have been allowed to undergo multi-dimensional deterioration over time. That deterioration has been allowed to grow into a multi-dimensional demographic push force making black people in Sandtown Baltimore appear suicidal. The ultimate underlying goal is the reduction of the black population in Balitmore and finally eliminating that population without fanfare or notice. 

We must note and be aware of this supreme manipulation taking place. Having black people in state political roles and having blacks as heads of city bureaucracies has not resulted in a more equitable distribution of wealth. These types of positions given to black people are only a ploy to lull black people into a false sense of security and trust.

police officers Freddie Gray

To understand the nature of the shell game being played on black people in Baltimore we must compare black politicians to the three black police officers. The police officers were hired to ‘protect and serve’, but they were actually accomplices in the murder of Freddie Gray. Analogously, black politicians, who are elected to also protect and serve, are also accomplices to the acts of negligence which have caused the degredation of black lives in the city of Baltimore. This leads to one undeniable fact.

Having black people in positions of state power is not the same as all black people having a vested present and future interest in the economy of the city of Baltimore.

For example, the city’s political structure reveals the following characteristics: the state’s attorney general is black; Baltimore has a black mayor, a black police commissioner, a black superintendent of schools, and 2/3 of the city council members are black.  Whereas the city’s black infrastructure reveals these characteristics: 90% of Baltimore’s jail population is black; 61% of its high school drop outs are black; 25% of blacks are below the poverty line; 41% of those 25 to 54 years of age are unemployed; 38% of those 20-24 years of age are unemployed; 18% of the homes are vacant; and, out of a population of 651,154, 59.2% of families are single parent female headed households. What does this tell us about black people having a vested interest in the city of Baltimore?

It tells us that being born flesh and blood into a city is not necessarily equal to having a vested interest in the present and future economic interests of that city. Just as a fetus carried in the womb of its mother has no vested interest in the body that carries it. For example, thousands of Africans are risking their lives by fleeing their homelands wherein they were born because they have no vested present and future interests in Africa. Why?

The answer is because something more is needed by men and women wherever they live; something which supersedes a mere claim of birth rights based upon citizenship and the civil and human rights which are constitutionally guaranteed to them. Black people must get property rights based upon ownership and no less.

The United States Constitution defines the right of a ‘vested interest’ as the inherent right of a person that cannot be defeated or cancelled by any natural or legal person. Courts of law qualify such a vested interest on a showing of proof of title or ownership.

Thus, property ownership by a person or a people is central to what determines a vested present or future interest in a state, county, or city. What a people own is not just a subject of civil law and individual rights under the law, but what they own adds the value of liberty to civil equality under the law.

It is liberty which will exempt black people from the extraneous control of state police power. It is liberty and only liberty which can free the shackled will of black people so that they can make moral choices beyond the narrow confines of their open air prisons in cities like Baltimore across the nation. Without liberty there are deadly consequences. Freddie Gray’s death is but one example of that.

Black people living in Sandtown Baltimore do not have a present nor a future vested interest in the very ground upon which they stand and upon which previous generations of their families stood. 

Thus, black people’s lives are lived at the whim of the owners of that property; and the owners are non-verbally communicating to black people living in Sandtown and its surrounding blocks these words: ‘Get out’.

For those black people who seek liberty for themselves and their children in the United States they must make a moral choice. They must rise up and take an economic stand; they must rise up and make an economic revolution as was done in Tulsa, Oklahoma and in Rosewood, Florida at the turn of the 20th century.

Poice Van Freddie Gray

Our choices are but two; they are either liberty or death. It is no false dichotomy that I present to you.  Our choices are liberty or death.