George Graham

Behind the Riots



It’s easy to point fingers and even assign blame in the sad Baltimore riots. But, obviousy, that’s not very helpful. It’s a complicated business, and I am thankful it’s not up to me to find a solution. But I can make an easy prediction: this isn’t the last such eruption in America.

There are layers upon layers of underlying causes for such tragic incidents. It seems some in the media see the nation’s law enforcement agencies as a refuge for sadistic racists who enjoy murdering young black men. I find that hard to believe. My brother Peter’s grandson, Anthony, is a deputy in Florida. Peter’s son’s brother-in-law has been a deputy for many years.Peter’s granddaughter’s husband is a deputy…

I am sure none of these men would intentionally harm anyone – except in the direst of circumstances.

Being a cop is hard. I wouldn’t want to be one.

Still, that does not excuse the slaughter of young black men across America. Somebody is killing them. And the somebody is often a law enforcement officer.

I suspect there’s a perception among law enforcement officers that young black males are dangerous. And I suspect the perception is based to a large extent on experience.

Yes, young black males can, indeed, be dangerous. If I were a young black male, I bet I would be dangerous. Wouldn’t you?

Young black males belong to an unjustly oppressed minority in America. There can be no argument about that. The reasons are numerous and complex, but the results are all-too-obvious.

I have lived in America for more than three decades, and I have seen little or no improvement in that intolerable situation.

Yes, a few lucky individuals are able to escape the ghetto, get into college, become professional athletes or lawyers or doctors or politicians Рor even President.

But for the vast majority of young black mles, opportunity is simply out of reach.

And with the rapidly widening income gap between the haves and the have-nots in this country, the situation is likely to get worse, not better.

As I said, I am glad it’s not up to me to fix this tragic situation. And the consequences are likely to get a lot more violent as solutions continue to elude those charged with fixing it.

Fasten your seatbelts, America. It looks as if we’re in for a wild ride.

Click for more on the riots.

Click for more on the likely causes.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for