Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Baltimore Orioles COO John P. Angelos Rails Against Oppression of the Poor

Orioles COO John P. Angelos (Wikipedia)

Orioles COO John P. Angelos (Wikipedia)

The chief operating officer of the Baltimore Orioles has taken to Twitter to blast baseball fans who are more concerned about game postponements and inconveniences than about the injustices that led to the civil unrest gripping Maryland’s largest city.

Some Orioles fans have been using their fists and their social media accounts to express anger and frustration at protesters and others who took to the streets of Baltimore to rail against the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after suffering an unexplained spinal injury while in police custody earlier this month.

Demonstrators marched near Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday, where they were met by hostile fans in several nearby bars. Protesters and fans hurled insults, then bottles and blows, at each other. Chants of “black lives matter” were met with retorts of “we don’t care” and “run them over” and. According to the Baltimore City Paper and WBAL, bar patrons also hurled racial epithets at the protesters, calling them “niggers,” “monkeys” and other slurs.

Further ire was stoked when, fearing for the safety of the 36,757 fans who watched the home team beat the visiting Boston Red Sox 5-4, the public address announcer and video scoreboard advised attendees to remain in the stadium until further notice due to “ongoing public safety issues.” Cue more angry fans ranting about law abiding citizens being “imprisoned” while the “criminals” run amok with impunity. The comment sections of popular right-wing websites quickly filled with forecasts of imminent race war, provoked by ungrateful black people who will be put back in their place, if not exterminated, by heavily-armed white patriots.

On Monday, the Orioles announced two scheduled home games against the Chicago White Sox had been postponed due to riots that engulfed swathes of central Baltimore after Gray’s funeral, with social media atwitter with yet more anger and finger-pointing.

Then something unexpected happened. Baltimore Orioles chief operating officer John P. Angelos, who is also the son of team owner Peter Angelos, took to Twitter to fire back at those who were more bothered by the minor inconveniences of being stuck in a stadium or having to wait to see a game than by the glaring injustices which have historically been the cause of so much black civil unrest in the United States.

In a series of tweets transcribed here in paragraph form for greater clarity, Angelos attempted—many say with great success and eloquence—to put things in proper perspective:

…My greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the US to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US, and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Many applauded Angelos for his clarity and understanding in a world in which critics accuse the “One Percent” of deafening tone-deafness. Noting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s truism that “riot is the language of the unheard,” ThinkProgress contributor Travis Waldron wrote that Angelos “is making an attempt to consider the deep frustrations and reasons that underlie these types of demonstrations, and to put them, their portrayals, and the resulting ‘inconveniences’ in a proper context.”

But not everyone was thrilled with what some called making excuses for common criminals and thugs. Some even accused Angelos of pandering to “thugs”—a common blanket descriptor for young black males among many conservatives—in the hope they wouldn’t ransack his stadium. Other branded him and his family as members of a “Democrat Socialist elite.”

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