The CVS in Baltimore, Maryland burning April 27th, 2015.

…on the use of “Thug”.

Malcolm Johnson
3 min readMay 2, 2015

There was a point, particularly during the Ferguson Protests where two shifts of people would pass in the night. One, were peaceful protesters out to protest Police brutality and injustice. They were going home. The other sought direct confrontation with the Cops.

They were the ones who stayed out past curfew and caused trouble

Since the Media were actively conflating these two groups of African-Americans (and watching Wolf Blitzer, still are conflating them), deliberately saying that the Peaceful Protesters were just as guilty as the people actually fighting the Cops, I thought it was important then, and still think it’s important now distinguish between the two.

Thus, “thugs” entered the conversation.

I’m sorry, but this latest meme saying that referring to folks who burned down and looted businesses as “Thugs” is offensive, is frankly…well, offensive to me.

I’m African-American, my radar is just as attuned here in this state (California) or my home state of Maryland. Turning “Thugs” into a racial thing, when it was used to separate Police Protesters from…well, the small minority of folks doing real damage, and trying to do so along non-racial lines, really ticks me off. I have seen Black “Thugs” (sometimes referred to as Gangstas), I have see White “Thugs” (sometimes referred to as Anarchists). The word “Thug” may have it’s origins in the history of East Asia (India), and the term has been co-opted by some in the Hip-Hop community. But in the current vernacular the definition of “Thug” is pretty straightforward:

“A violent criminal”…at least according to Webster’s online dictionary. (Seriously, who has a printed Dictionary these days?)

I think that’s who we saw at work Monday.

If you were out there watching stuff getting burned and looted Monday, I’m not thrilled with you but you’re not a “Thug”.

If you were out there actually burning and looting stuff Monday, then you are.

I’m sorry, the President was right on that one.

For some reason, there seems to be…within my community, a general desire to excuse some of the nonsense we say Monday night. I’ve read a lot of “You’ve got to understands”, or “This has been brewing for a long times”, or flat out declarations that no matter what they did Monday that the police are way worse

Well, they are but…

…still, does that excuse what we saw Monday night?

Does showing your rage mean burning down a local pharmacy, making it hard for old folks to get their medicines?

Does showing your rage mean closing local businesses (as one family member can attest to) and risking others?

Mostly importantly, does it mean surrendering the moral high ground to the Cops? Ever?

Fortunately, the Cops behavior in the Freddie Gray matter was so reprehensible enough that we only lost the high ground for one night. We got it right back again during next day’s jubilant, defiant protests in the streets outside the CVS. Best of all the Cops involved were indicted today. We are still a long, long away from seeing justice done for Freddie and his Family, but what happened today was a start…

…but it all could have upended by what the “Thugs” did on Friday.

Yes, I’m still saying it.