Watching images of people throwing things at police, setting fires, and destroying property in Baltimore reminds me of the pent-up anger that fueled the 1980 riots in Miami. After an all-white jury acquitted four white officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance agent and former Marine, a three-day rampage erupted in Liberty City, the Black Grove, Overtown, and Brownsville that left 18 people dead and caused more than $100 million in damage.
Back then, I was a 20-year-old party DJ who had been hassled by Miami Police for allegedly inciting a riot at a local park. I learned early on that "a riot is the language of the unheard," as Martin Luther King Jr. once said.
The great civil rights leader pointed out that riots are the product of societal conditions so intolerable the only way to draw attention is to engage in violent acts. Critics fail to see that rioters want revolution, not resolution.
Cops killing unarmed black men is only the detonator. The dynamite comes from the lack of education, the cycle of poverty, the black-on-black crime, and the lack of business opportunities.
Whether it's Ferguson or Baltimore, rioters target gas stations and convenience stores. Why? Well, some of these establishments are owned by people who discriminate against blacks. And some of these business owners form syndicates to buy goods at wholesale prices that make it impossible for black entrepreneurs to compete.
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Back in 1980, a friend's family owned a fruit stand that was left untouched during the McDuffie riots. In fact, it was the only place open for business.
The mainstream media keeps giving the impression that violent protesters have no brains. But the truth is the masked black teenagers who are scaring the whiteness out of talking heads like Wolf Blitzer and Geraldo Rivera are aware of what is going on around them.
They are sick and tired of being targeted by police. But now African-Americans from Baltimore to Liberty City need to take it to the next level. They need to protest for better economic opportunities to give themselves the best chance of survival.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.