Inappropriate Response To Police Detective's Death Reveals Baltimore's Dark Underbelly

Inappropriate Response To Police Detective's Death Reveals Baltimore's Dark Underbelly

Ordinary citizens should receive the same level of grief as police officers.
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On November 16, a Baltimore City Police Detective named Sean Suiter was killed on the job.

His death has spurred much heartbreak and outrage in Baltimore, as well as arguably unconstitutional activity by the police. Ultimately, his death has revealed our city’s dark underbelly.

At the end of the day, someone was killed. Sean Suiter was a married father of five, and my heart goes out to his family. No one deserves to have a loved one ripped away from them in such a cruel and sudden way. Everything to follow in this article bears this in mind, and means no disrespect to the memory of the fallen or the loved ones he leaves behind.

But the fact is that this incident of violence – and the city’s response to it – reveals an astounding double standard when it comes to who and how we as a city grieve, how we view crime, and ultimately whose lives (and deaths) we value.

Baltimore is currently experiencing the highest homicide rates it's seen in years, with over 300 people having been killed so far in 2017. The intersection where Suiter was found dead has been the site of over a dozen shootings and killings in recent years.

When ordinary Baltimore residents – oftentimes young black men in disenfranchised neighborhoods – are killed, we move on like nothing ever happened. When a police officer is killed, it makes headlines across the state, a $215,000 reward is set in place for whoever finds the suspect, and police officers occupy the block where he was killed while wearing bullet-proof vests and openly carrying weapons, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the perpetrator.

Quite the contrast, no?

BPD Police Commissioner Kevin Davis acknowledges this disparity, but justifies it by saying: “When a cop is killed, that goes way beyond that murder. It’s an attack on American policing…Policing exists to serve our unique democracy, so that’s why the murder of a cop always has been and always will be something that’s absolutely unacceptable in a free society.” (Quote from the Baltimore Sun.)

I do not believe this to be a satisfying argument.

This might feel like a satisfactory response if Baltimore policing did indeed serve our unique democracy and if Baltimore police officers were known to protect the safety and liberties of the people. But the reality is that the Baltimore Police Department is known to be a corrupt and discriminatory institution. While there are certainly good cops who wish to make Baltimore safer, their efforts have clearly not been effective this year, as our crime rates are soaring.

While some may argue that this murder is different than those between ordinary civilians because regular residents killed throughout the year are more likely to be involved in illegal activity, talk to many Baltimore residents and they will tell you that police officers are just as likely – if not more likely – to be criminals than ordinary citizens.

This belief is not unfounded. After all, the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2015 investigation into the Baltimore Police Department concluded in what has been described as a damning report, saying: “We found that BPD has engaged in a pattern or practice of serious violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law that has disproportionately harmed Baltimore’s African-American community and eroded the public’s trust in the police.”

While a consent decree was reached in a binding effort to address the deep-seated issues in the BPD, Baltimore residents have not exactly been given great reason to believe that it’s working. Since this consent decree, there have been several scandals within the Baltimore Police Department, from video footage of cops planting drugs, to federal indictments of several officers for robbing civilians of over $280,000 over the course of five years.

Just this month Officer Caesar Goodman Jr. received zero administrative consequences for being involved in the killing of Freddie Gray.

The police are ruthless; we know this to be true. As Keith Davis Jr.’s story tells us, they are especially ruthless when they are covering their tracks. This has led many Baltimore residents to question whether there’s something more happening beneath the surface in this case.

Why and how would an officer, an 18-year veteran, be killed with his own gun? And what was the “suspicious” behavior the officers observed that caused them to approach the supposed gunman?

Often, in Baltimore, being poor and black is enough for one to be labeled “suspicious.”

I personally am worried that the BPD will go to any lengths to say they have found the perpetrator, even if it means carelessly framing someone for a crime they did not commit. This could especially prove true if there was some foul play happening between these officers and the suspects.

I could be wrong; after all, I know very little about this man. But it remains true that the absolute, unquestioned reverence with which Suiter has been immediately treated by Baltimore is in stark contrast with the ambivalence most victims of violence in this city receive.

There is no reason for a neighborhood to become a militarized occupied territory. Residents should not have to show their IDs every time they want to enter their own homes or endure having their doors knocked on multiple times a day or being patted down by police officers.

Quite frankly? The occupation of the Harlem Park neighborhood feels less like a reputable institution carrying out a search for justice, and much more like an illegal gang terrorizing ordinary people in an effort to reassert their bruised dominance.

I called my mother and she said to me: “If the BPD cared about police brutality as much as they care about this, the issue would be over. Police violence would be no longer be a problem.”

She’s right.

If the BPD, and all Baltimore City elected officials, cared about ordinary citizens – especially black citizens – as much as they care about the police, our crime rates would be exponentially smaller. The victims of the 300+ homicides in Baltimore this year would have received just as much attention and compassion as Detective Suiter.

But Baltimore has made itself clear. The police, the government, and many of its (white) residents value the lives of police officers far more than they’ve ever cared about Baltimore’s ordinary people.

It’s time for this to end. Stop the police from terrorizing every-day citizens as they try to go about their lives. Maybe take some of that $215,000 reward and put it towards Baltimore City schools, or also finding the perpetrators of some of the other tragic shootings that have occurred this year.

As I said at the beginning of this article, my heart goes out to the loved ones of Sean Suiter, it really does. But enough is enough. To use the death of a police detective as an excuse to justify unconstitutional activity, such as we have seen in West Baltimore, is abhorrent. To pay attention to soaring homicide rates only when it affects those in positions of power is disgusting.

Baltimore has a dark underbelly. This week it has been revealed once again, for all to see.

Cover Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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10 Men That Will Change Your Mind About Hair Loss

It happens to the best of them, but these men look better with a bald head!

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Hair loss is such a common thing for men to face as they get older. As a society, I feel as though we typically frown upon it. This is probably the case due to the amount of hair transplants and hair products to stop hair loss and start hair growth. However, there are some men who can make the hair loss turn into a great thing because of how good they look bald. So, I have found the best looking bald men (in my opinion, of course!) and put them all into one list for your viewing pleasure!

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1. Will Smith

First of all, I am extremely bias because I believe that Will Smith is the best looking man on this planet (even my boyfriend knows this!). Second, Will Smith is not always bald, but when he is, he tops the list of all bald men. In his role of Deadshot in Suicide Squad, Will was rocking the bald cut and looked absolutely amazing while doing so. 10/10, would recommend.

Will Smith: Deadshothttps://batman-news.com/2016/12/13/deadshot-movie-...


2. Idris Elba

Once again, another man that is not usually bald but when he is, he sure does kill. Idris Elba is such a great looking man and has an even better sounding voice. What is better than a man with an accent that looks good bald?


Idris Elbaidris-elba-hairstyle


3. Dwayne Johnson

We all know that the Rock is a favorite among women. He is tall, handsome and has the big strong muscles. Not to mention he plays the sweet father role well and has a great sense of humor. But the most impressive part of him is that he can be bald and pull it off VERY well!

Dwayne Johnsonhttps://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/f...


4. Morris Chestnut

Such a beautiful man with an amazing smile. I am not sure how someone could not love the appearance of Morris Chestnut. Did I mention his smile?

Morris Chestnutmorris-chestnut


5. Shemar Moore

Another man with no hair that steals the show with a great smile is Shemar Moore. His bald head stands out in a great way and I think it would be impossible to have this type of list without Shemar on it.

Shemar Moorehttps://mymajicdc.com/3632803/see-the-photo-that-h...

6. Kobe Bryant

Not only is the MVP of basketball but he might be the MVM (most valued man) of the bald men out there! Once again, another beautiful smile. Not to mention, he's extremely talented.

Kobe Bryanthttps://www.kcra.com/article/nba-legend-kobe-bryan...


7. LL Cool J

A singer and an actor, representing the best of the bald men out there. Such a beautiful smile (are we seeing a trend here?) and an even better looking man. Could not leave LL Cool J off of this list either.

LL Cool Jhttp://comicbook.com/2014/10/29/ll-cool-j-says-hes...


8. Tyrese Gibson

Another man who can definitely give a positive view on being bald and losing your hair, Tyrese has been doing the look justice for a long time now.

Tyrese Gibsonhttps://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tyrese-gibs...


9. Vin Diesel

We all know him from the Fast and the Furious, but let's recognize that he is a great looking man, rocking the bald head look. We love the movies and we love him. Go you Vin Diesel, keep rocking out and winning over all of our hearts (and eyes!).

Vin Dieselhttps://pagesix.com/2017/12/29/vin-diesel-named-fo...


10. Common

What common lacks in hair on his head he gains in facial hair. I swear he has one of the best beards ever. Also, those freckles? Hello? So cute!

Commonhttps://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/common-becomes...


Hopefully, after seeing as these wonderful men absolutely slaying the bald look, you'll think twice about hair loss (whether you're a man or a woman!).

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