The Baltimore rebellion and Newton’s third law of motion

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00_WilmerLeon00When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.” Or, as it is more commonly stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. – Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion 1687
Sparked by the not so mysterious April 19, death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police, citizens of West Baltimore and other outside agitators took to the streets in yet another seemingly endless display of urban unrest. Reporters from mainstream media outlets such as CNN are unable to place the unrest in any substantive historical context.

“I don’t remember seeing anything like this in the United States of America in a long time” — @wolfblitzer and CNN’s Don Lemon refuses to engage in any substantive analysis of the basis of the outrage in Baltimore. He prefers to simply state, “…the city is burning because someone in essence set it on fire.”

What we don’t know
Let’s try to use what we do know to figure out what it is that we “don’t” know. A 25-year-old Baltimore man named Freddie Gray made eye contact with a police officer and took off running. Gray was pursued by the police. There is no known video of the pursuit. There is video of a handcuffed Gray being lifted to his feet, seemingly unable to walk and screaming in pain. He is dragged by police to a van and placed into it by the police because it appears that he is unable to get into it under his own power. Within one hour of being in custody, Gray arrives at the police station in medical distress, unable to walk or talk.

He later lapses into a coma and dies of his injuries a week later. The preliminary report is that Freddie Gray’s spinal cord was 80% severed and his voice box was crushed. Many are asking “why did he run?” Maybe the question should be, “why did they pursue him?” When did it become illegal to look at a police officer and then take off running?

Broken limbs
The video indicates that Gray’s inability to use his legs and his inability to get into the van under his own power are evidence that his neck was broken during the take down and subsequent cuffing. As an eye witness says on the tape, “hey, that boy’s legs look broke…” His injuries are consistent with a knee being placed against the back of his neck with tremendous force as he laid on the ground and was being restrained.

That is also consistent with police tactics and training. Initially, people in Baltimore took to the streets with peaceful protest but those protest turned violent; resulting in looting, burning, and total mayhem.

When asked why she did not use a show of force much earlier in the protest, Mayor Rawlings-Blake said, “We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.” It is now apparent that Mayor Rawlings-Blake got what she allowed and much more. She finally called for and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan activated the National Guard. So, the people who she allowed to “destroy space” are now the same people Mayor Rawlings-Blake is condemning as “thugs.”

Simple physics
But this reaction in the streets should have been anticipated. Actually, it follows the natural laws of physics. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, ““When one body (the police) exerts a force on a second body (the community), the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.” More simply put, when police officers treat a community that they are sworn to protect and serve as enemy combatants, the community will rebel. When a people see a police force that is supposed to protect and serve them turn into an occupying force, they will revolt.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio channel 126 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon.”

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