‘You Call 911 and Nobody Answers’

Baltimore is burning.

About five stores in the 600 block of Eutaw Street had busted windows and were looted after rioters came through about 4 p.m. Joe Lewis, 41, of Cherry Hill, said he and his brother tried to stop the rioters and urged them to move on.

“If [police] don’t stop what they’re doing, I wouldn’t care if they called Jesus or the law down here,” he said. “They’re going to see a side of them they wish they never brought out.”

Boubacar Sall said looters destroyed his sister’s store, Benita’s. They stole hair extensions, a television set and boxes of hair products.

Rishan George, who lives on the block, said, “you call 911 and nobody answers.”

This is how today is like every other day. The world is on fire. And we notice today, because we’ve decided to notice, today. When we forget again tomorrow, it won’t be because we can no longer smell the smoke.

People called for help, and nobody answered. For years. They did this for years, and years, and years, while the streets crumbled beneath them. The factories closed, and the schools shut down, and the swingsets rusted in the parks while the weeds grew tall. Those with the power to help drove fast through those neighborhoods, called them rough, asked why the people there just didn’t move.

Talked about personal responsibility, about bootstraps, about pulling up pants and not listening to angry loud music and wearing the right kinds of shirts to the right kinds of protests with the right kinds of people. Those with the power to change things demanded change from the powerless.

Tomorrow many, many people will ask why, and somebody will keep track of who condemned what, and when, and how loudly. People are calling for help, and nobody is answering:

Two city recreation centers in West Baltimore, the Robert C. Marshall Recreation Center in Upton and Lillian Jones Recreation Center in Sandtown-Winchester, closed early. All Pratt Library branches closed early.


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