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Baltimore: The Pratt Street Riot of 1861 and The Thug Riot of 2015

The rioting in Baltimore has been dominating the news this week and it has been a disgusting display of liberalism in action.  The thugs claim victim status as justification for rioting, arson and theft while the police stand idly by, handcuffed by a wimp of a Mayor who wanted to give the “protesters” some “space to destroy” the city, while later claiming that she never said that.  It is a stark contrast to the rioting in Baltimore in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War.  Fort Sumter, South Carolina is famous for being the location of the first shots fired in the war and the First Battle of Bull Run is famous for being the first major land battle of the armies in Virginia.  But did you know that Baltimore is the location of the first documented casualty of the Civil War and that it happened during rioting in the streets?  The Pratt Street Riot on April 19, 1861 was a violent event that took place on the streets of Baltimore and it involved some very different motivations from the looting and destruction taking place this week.Pratt-Street-Riot

National Park Service – Following the secession of the southern States and the bombardment of Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 men to be raised from the militia of the states in order to put down the rebellion. These troops were to be transported to Washington, D.C. so that they might protect the Capitol. At this time, the most efficient means to transport such large numbers of men was by rail, and the only routes to Washington passed through Baltimore.

Marylanders were divided in their sympathies. While many disliked the idea of secession, they felt that it was a state’s right to secede from the union if it chose to. Many also felt that Maryland should not permit troops to pass through the state to attack a sister state, and others mistrusted the President’s intentions, suspecting that the troops would be used to force Maryland to remain in the Union.

The Riot

On April 19, 1861, only five days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, the situation in Baltimore exploded into violence. The 6th Massachusetts Infantry arrived at the President Street Station and began the process of changing trains. The cars were disconnected and pulled by horses down Pratt Street to Camden Station. As the process continued, a crowd gathered and with each moment it became more and more unruly. All but two of the cars had been transferred when the crowd blocked the tracks with timbers and anchors.

The two cars returned to the President Street Station and the soldiers disembarked to the howls and jeers of the mob. The troops then marched back down Pratt Street, led by a man carrying a rebel flag, and followed by the mob. At Gay Street some of the mob began tearing up paving stones and throwing them at the soldiers. Other men were seen brandishing pistols and muskets. Someone fired a shot.

The frightened officers ordered the troops to fire into the crowd. This angered the mob further, and they began to attack the soldiers with considerable ferocity. Citizens threw stones and bricks and fired shots at the soldiers. The soldiers returned the fire. Rioters, soldiers, and innocent bystanders fell dead and wounded. The Mayor bravely attempted to stop the battle without success. Then the police arrived.

Marshal Kane put his policemen between the two groups and escorted the troops to Camden Station, where they boarded the train and left Baltimore. The Pratt Street Riot was over. The riot resulted in the first casualty list of the war. Eight rioters, one innocent bystander and three soldiers were killed, twenty-four soldiers and an unknown number of civilians wounded.

The differences between the Pratt Street Riot and the Thug Riot are noteworthy.

First, let’s discuss the motivation of the rioters.  The rioters of 1861 were supporters of secession, believing that Maryland and other states had the right to secede from the union.  The presence of federal troops in what could be deemed to be enemy territory was enough for some to respond harshly, with tensions building and violence breaking out once someone fired a shot.  Whatever you believe about the cause of the Civil War and the right to secede is not relevant here.  What’s important is that the motivation of the rioters was to support their state against what they saw as tyranny of the federal government.  The rioters did not burn down any businesses or homes and there was no looting.

oreosContrast that with the thugs in today’s Baltimore, who used the death of Freddie Gray as an excuse to riot, burn businesses and homes, burn cars, loot and plunder, assault police, reporters and bystanders and generally destroy their neighborhoods.  Among the buildings burned to the ground was a new senior citizens center that a church had been working on for several years.  The thugs and their apologists in the city government and the media tell us that the thugs were justified because of ‘oppressive government’ or ‘lack of economic development’ or ‘racist police.’  Take your pick.  They all didn’t seem to be on the same page and each leftist mouthpiece had a different excuse for why we should watch in solidarity as thugs burned down their own city.

The truth is, they didn’t need an excuse other than that they chose to do what they did.  The death of Freddie Gray was merely the event on which they pinned their artificial outrage while committing theft and arson.  Tell me, leftist media types and politicians, how does looting Doritos and toilet paper from the CVS before burning it down do anything to help social justice?  It doesn’t and anyone who commits such acts or defends them is part of the problem.  The minute thugs begin committing crimes is when their grievances should no longer be listened to and anyone who defends their criminal acts should be dismissed as an accessory to rioting.

Another noteworthy difference between the Pratt Street Riot and the Thug Riot is at whom the violence was directed.  In the Pratt Street Riot the federal troops were the focus of the rioters and all the violence coming from Baltimore citizens was directed solely at the soldiers.  They saw the troops as representatives of their new enemy, the U.S. government, and their actions that day were directed squarely at the troops.

In the Thug Riot, the claimed reason it all started in the first place was the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.  The usual claims of police racism, targeting black people, etc were thrown out on queue as justification for the violence that was about to begin.  So naturally, the focus of all the rioters was centered on the police and all others were left alone, right?  Hardly.  Sure, bottles were thrown at police, some were assaulted and at least a dozen officers were injured, but the vast majority of the violence was directed elsewhere.  Businesses were looted and burned, cars were burned, the neighborhood was trashed, reporters and other people were assaulted, and yet they tried to tell us their anger was at the police?  Their actions didn’t match their claimed reason for rioting.  But of course, we all know the claimed anger was just the excuse and the rioters wanted to get themselves a new Xbox, sneakers and junk food while setting fire to the building on the way out the door.

A Baltimore city councilman tried to justify the rioting by claiming that there was a “lack of economic development” in the area.  Oh, the irony of that statement while rioters burned businesses to the ground all around him!  What business would want to build in an area where thugs wanting free stuff are going to burn the place to the ground after they steal it?

Their claimed anger is a lie.  If their anger has any justification at all it should be directed at the liberals who have turned their once-great city into a cesspool of failed liberal policies.  A city that has been ruled by Democrats for the last fifty years has no one to blame but themselves when there is no economic development.  When a government check takes the place of a father in the home, we have witnessed this week what that has wrought.  When ‘baby daddies’ make the babies and then leave, that puts the government in the position of being the breadwinner in the home by way of a welfare check paid for by the rest of us.  But that’s what liberals want is for the government to be the head of household.  The rioting we watched on the streets of Baltimore is the result.

The audacity of some of the rioters was unbelievable.  I watched as one man spoke to a reporter and decried the actions of police, who he said had shot him with bean bags.  He lifted his shirt to display the bloody welts he’d received and further complained about the brutality of the police.  When the reporter asked him what he was doing when he received the bean bag attitude adjustment he replied that he’d been throwing bottles at the police.  What did he think would happen, that they’d say thank you and please throw another?  Incredible.

And let’s not forget the man about whom this entire debacle was said to be about – Freddie Gray.  His death while in police custody was the precursor for all the feigned outrage.  What type of person was Freddie?  It seems he had a long criminal record with many drug offenses, burglary and assault.  He was certainly no angel.  While that certainly would not justify police brutality, at this point there is no evidence whatsoever of any brutality.  In fact, there is a report now from the Washington Post that says another prisoner in the police van claims Freddie was intentionally trying to injure himself in the van.  But of course, the lack of any indication of police brutality and this story about Freddie’s attempts to create false injuries won’t stop the thugs from the looting and destruction that they are just itching to do.  Just like Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both of whom died resisting or attacking police officers, Freddie Gray is just another criminal thug whose death is being used as a catalyst to justify committing crimes.

Here’s a tip for all you people who think the police are just looking for opportunities to kill black people – Try obeying the law.  Don’t be a drug dealer like Freddie Gray.  Don’t be an armed robber and assault police officers like Michael Brown.  Don’t be a criminal who resists arrest like Eric Garner.  All three of these men whose deaths have become cause celebre for the left and the media would be alive today if they simply obeyed the law.  If you find yourself in an encounter with police or get pulled over for a traffic violation, try actually doing what the officers tells you to do instead of shouting profanity and assaulting him or her.  The fact that all three of these men whose deaths have been used as pretexts for protests and rioting were criminal thugs should be a clue here.  Thugs shouldn’t be surprised when they aren’t greeted with a smile and a cookie when their criminal actions draw the attention of police.

If the thugs don’t want the police to view them as thugs and treat them accordingly then they should stop acting like thugs.  I know that’s not going to happen so it will just be a matter of time before the next thug who gets himself killed in an encounter with police becomes the fraudulent pretext for another riot.  President Obama will send White House representatives to the thug’s funeral, as he did for Freddie Gray and Michael Brown, the leftist media will blame the police again before all the facts are in and the rest of the thugs will burn down buildings and loot big screen televisions, Oreo cookies and toilet paper while screaming about racist police and social injustice.  

The thugs could take a lesson from the rioters in the Pratt Street Riot.  They didn’t create artificial outrage to justify arson and thievery.  In fact, they didn’t commit arson and thievery at all.  But then again, arson and thievery weren’t the reason for their riot.  The thugs of today just seem to look for excuses to burn, steal and destroy.  And then they wonder why people view them as thugs and treat them accordingly. 

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