Waiting for a Response

How will Washington deal with the developing crisis in Baltimore?

Noah Scialom/EPA

It seems as if America has become infected.

The diagnosis? A lethal case of incurable police-related conflicts.

Just as the 2014 tensions in Ferguson and Long Island began to subside, 2015 came along with its own handful of crises, most recently in Baltimore.

After 25-year-old Freddie Gray mysteriously died in the custody of the Baltimore police earlier this month, the city has responded with both peaceful protests and violent riots.

The situation in Baltimore is looking quite dire. After 15 police officers got injured on Monday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called for the National Guard to help quell the violence. Baltimore public schools have closed down for Tuesday, and a citywide curfew is being implemented..

Unfortunately, while Baltimore has their hands full with the crisis, the people in Washington seem to be reacting slowly. President Obama has discussed the situation with new Attorney General Loretta Lynch as well as Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, but the White House has had a lackluster response otherwise.

The reality is, a quick response by the federal government is exactly what is needed in this situation. The news of the riots has swept the nation, and thousands of people have been voicing their dissatisfaction. It will not be surprising if protests begin to spread across the nation.

The White House and the Justice Department should address the situation sooner rather than later to help create a sense of order. As officials in Maryland work to control the riots, Washington has a valuable opportunity to soothe any public apprehension. Obama will definitely speak publicly about the situation in the coming days. What he says, or does not say, will have a huge impact on the public perception of the crisis and the broader issue of police relations in America.

Congress can also help out with this federal response. Saying, “enough is enough” and beginning work on a comprehensive police reform law would certainly be a popular move. Many people are sick of hearing these news stories about police tensions. At this point changes on a local level are not enough for them. They want to see tangible progress spearheaded on the national level to make sure such conflicts never happen again.

If Washington fails to respond quickly and effectively, we will have another Ferguson on our hands. Or possibly something worse.

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