Trying to understand injustice

On April 19th, Freddie Gray died after suffering an acute spinal injury while he had been in police custody. The details are still unknown about what had transpired. His arrest and tragic death have sparked many peaceful protests in Baltimore, but some protests have turned into violent rioting.

There are many different opinions on whether the violence is justified, but NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said, “This problem won’t be solved throwing Molotov cocktails. Burning businesses homes and buildings in your own community is like putting a gun to your own head. And the fact of the matter is that rioting and looting doesn’t represent flowers or a sympathy card to a grieving family. We’ve got to engage in a constructive action. And that’s what we are trying to do on the ground and in the community.”

Although there are no easy solutions to any injustice, here are some OCW resources that can help offer some understanding of these unfolding events:

17.581 Riots, Rebellions, Revolutions – some of the readings (which can be borrowed from a public library) shed light on the psychological, sociological, and political aspects of riots.

21H.104J Riots, Strikes, and Conspiracies in American History – a sample assignment on the draft riots of New York City in 1863 examines the underlying problems that fueled the chaos.

24.236 Topics in Social Theory and Practice: Race and Racism – lecture notes delve into the questions “How should we understand racial injustice? Does racial injustice continue to exist? If so, what steps might legitimately be taken to end it?”

CMS.361 Networked Social Movements: Media & Mobilization – Freddie Gray’s capture was caught on cellphone video and shared with the world. This course has samples of student work and readings that look at media and social movements.

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