Baltimore Councilman Accuses President and Baltimore Mayor For Using Racist Term In Calling Rioters “Thugs”

20130915StephanieRawlings-Blake1280x1920-1President_Barack_ObamaBaltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes (D) went on CNN yesterday and attacked President Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) for referring to rioters in Baltimore as “thugs” saying, “just call them n*ggers”. It is a familiar controversy for readers of this blog. Last year, various commentators objected to my writing about the “thuggish” behavior of Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman
as inherently racist — a position that I rejected. I have continued to use thug as both a noun and adjective. Now it appears that President Obama and Mayor Rawlings-Blake are being accused of the same use of racist code words by Councilman Stokes.

In the meantime, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young apologized to rioters for calling them “thugs.”

“What we’re seeing today is not about Freddie Gray,” Young said. “It is about the pain, the hurt and the suffering of these young people. There’s no excuse for them to loot, riot and destroy our city. I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children ‘thugs.’ They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.”

On CNN, Stokes objected to the use of the word when prompted by the host and said


“of course it’s not the right word to call our children thugs. These are children who have been set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us. No, we don’t have to call them thugs . . . “calling them thugs — just call them n*ggers. Just call them n*ggers. No, we don’t have to call them by names such as that. We don’t have to do that. That is exactly what we have set them to. Now, when you say ‘come on,’ come on what? You wouldn’t call your child a thug if they should do something that would not be what you would expect them to do.”

He added that he supported the recent video of a mother slapping her son for participating in the riots, but insisted that it was the right thing to do (not because of his participation in riots) but to keep the police from killing him: “she was trying to save his life. It is clear that it’s better that she hit him than the police hit him and brutalize him and take his life from him.”

In my view, Stokes is wrong on the use of the “thug” as well as his criticism of the President and the Mayor. He views mirror an effort to bar the use of words deemed to be “codes” when used to criticize minorities. The same objections were heard earlier on this blog and other sites. Beanie Barnes was one of those calling out those who use the word: “Suddenly he was ‘classless,’ a ‘thug’ from Compton, and any manner of other negative terms that one can substitute for the N-word. Sherman was no longer human, but a racist caricature.”

I disagree with this view, which ascribes a racist rather than a descriptive element to the use of the noun. The word “thug” has been used widely on this blog to rather to people of different genders, races, and backgrounds. It is possible for blacks like whites to act like thugs. It is their behavior that is driving the use of the word like burning police cars and robbing people in the streets of Baltimore.

No, neither President Obama nor Mayor Rawlings-Blake are racists. These rioters are thugs.

330 thoughts on “Baltimore Councilman Accuses President and Baltimore Mayor For Using Racist Term In Calling Rioters “Thugs””

  1. Mr. Schulte

    Actually I read Wealth of Nations the summer before coming to law school.

    What answers should it have given me?

    I interpret Smith more like Chomsky and less like Friedman. I enjoy ethics over blood money.

    1. TJustice – Chomsky is a linguist, Smith and Friedman are economists. Read Smith as Smith, Chomsky as Chomsky and Friedman as Friedman. It will make you life easier.

  2. Paul, not sure what link you’re talking about. Maybe it’s the adult level reading material re: Grey?

  3. Paul, only in French, the English version is on my list, after Moral Sentiments!

  4. Paul says:
    There is a particular reason I suggested that po read Wealth of Nations and you, too. When you read it many of your questions will be answered.
    There is an old saying in education: You can lead a student to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.
    Trying to outsource your arguments again, Paul?!
    At least Squeek offered arguments (though flawed) based on a source; you just want the dead author to argue your unstated arguments!

    1. po – I am surprised you haven’t read Wealth of Nations already.

  5. TJustice, yes, they lied on his arrest form and said it was a switchblade, it was a pocket knife. My grandson got a Swiss Army pocket knife for his 10 birthday a couple of years ago. It must be awful for the family to know their son that they loved was so misused and abused and ultimately killed for absolutely nothing.

  6. Bettykath, I agree with you, he seemed to be in a great deal of pain and his legs were not functioning properly, that was very evident just by watching. I’m glad you’re here commenting, your observations always seem right on target.

  7. If these cops get acquitted, maybe our whiner in chief, who left to never come back again after Trayvon, will do a dramatic swan song once again. She certainly has these cops she hates convicted already, as do a few others. I pray their ilk don’t lie to get on a jury. That happens you know. Hateful people lie under oath. I hope there is a good jury, a fair trial, and justice is served. NO ONE HERE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED!

  8. I. Annie

    The illegal arrest seemed to be apparent from the beginning of this story. Minus reasonable suspicion – the person is armed and dangerous or has evidence of a crime that’s been committed – a person has the right to run from police and make eye contact.

    In this case, there was nothing illegal that was found. Thus, confirming the need to be diligent in requiring actual reasonable suspicion before a person can be assaulted, seized, and arrested by law enforcement.

  9. Mr schulte

    I’m not sure you area even aware of the theory of moral sentiments… Adam smith is widely misinterpreted in our modern political discourse.

    Instead of trying to exploit someone’s ignorance (an you’re a teacher?!?! Yikes.) try stimulating someone’s thought and creativity.

    1. TJustice – what I have learned over time is that you should read the original writer, not someone summarizing their material. Go to the source. It is clear you have not read him because of the derision, although some professor you had told you about him.
      There is a particular reason I suggested that po read Wealth of Nations and you, too. When you read it many of your questions will be answered.
      There is an old saying in education: You can lead a student to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.

  10. His leg bent behind him like a pretzel and cop’s foot on his neck. I don’t accept the assertion that he wasn’t injured at the initial scene, with additional injuries along the 2 minute ride that took 38 minutes.

  11. Bettykath, your video shows what could’ve been the initial spinal injury, then with rough handling, being shackled and flung around in a metal space with bolts jutting out, plus being unbuckled, well no wonder. IMO, that warrants the second degree murder charge, willful disregard for his life. He asked for medical help several times and was ignored.

  12. It was an ILLEGAL arrest. He should never have been arrested.

  13. Nick – true. They are not on trial for police misconduct in other precincts or cities or for problems with the police in general. They will be on trial for their own actions that day.

  14. bettykath – they should never have taken him to the precinct, anyway. They should have taken him to a hospital. That’s what I saw happen when I went on ride alongs. ER first and then jail.

  15. anon:

    What is crucial to determine is if there would have been a different outcome if there had not been international scrutiny. Would the medical examiner still have rendered the COD homicide? I assume so. Would the DA known for being tough on police misconduct have ignored a homicide COD?

    Is this a case of the system working regardless of the scrutiny, or because of it? The only way to determine this is to review how previous allegations of misconduct were handled, both during and before the current DA’s tenure. On the one hand, people getting arrested can fabricate accusations to try to get out of trouble themselves. Or there could be sincere complaints. An external investigation into the handling of misconduct allegations should uncover if a concerted effort was made routinely to investigate and judge on the merits of each complaint over the course of time.


    1. Gray was CLEARLY injured before he was placed in the back of the police van. [video at link]

    2. It took the police nearly 38 minutes to get him to the police station, but it’s only a two-minute drive away.

    3. The Baltimore police’s leak to the Washington Post that Gray injured himself in the van and that another suspect heard him doing it is not supported by the facts. A full six days earlier, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts claimed that the second suspect said Gray was quiet in the back of the van. [Interview with the “other suspect” indicates that he didn’t say anything like this. Cops are trying to cya.]

    1. bettykath – clicked on your link and ended up on an adult site.

  17. Anon – thanks for the links. The police unions fighting accountability and buying political influence is a similar story as the teachers unions. The TU defends pedophile teachers and fights the firing of bad teachers. It seems to be a common thread among unions, unhappily.

    I’m always saying to wait for an investigation before coming to a conclusion. And of course to riot while the investigation is ongoing is absurd. But if the evidence points to a crime being committed, then it needs to be prosecuted just the same as any other. What I would also like to see is a review of the department’s protocol regarding suspects who present with a medical condition or complaint. As an asthmatic, the account of Gray being denied medical help during an asthma attack was horrifying. From my perspective, I would also like to see the use of mace and pepper spray by law enforcement discontinued. Such chemicals are deadly to people like me, and there is no way for police officers to know if anyone in a crowd is asthmatic or has another respiratory issue like COPD.

    Any misconduct of someone with authority, whether it’s a cop, judge, doctor, nurse, or teacher, needs to be firmly dealt with, or risk the erosion of the public trust.

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