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To understand what’s happening in Baltimore, let’s start from David Simon’s interview with the Marshall Project. A former Baltimore reporter and the creator of “The Wire,” he says that the police there long ago abdicated any claim to legitimate authority.

Police powers are inherently prone to abuse, but we grant them anyway, because the power is necessary to protect the community from crime. Simon argues that the Baltimore police stopped really pursuing that goal, so all that was left was the abuses. In a majority-black city with a black mayor, these dynamics do not neatly match our national assumptions about white oppressors and black oppressed. But they do back up the perception that the government cares only about the privileged, and will abuse you to benefit them.

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