Summers of Our Discontent

It's been 48 years since the Long Hot Summer of 1967. A year later, the same cities reignited in the King assassination riots. Baltimore Washington, D.C., Louisville, Kansas City, Detroit, Chicago.

In 1968 Baltimore, six people died, 700 were injured, and 5,800 were arrested. 1000 small businesses were damaged or robbed. Something else happened in Baltimore this week. A pharmacy was burned, a couple of cars. Some cops went to the hospital and some other folks went to jail.

And then: Bloods and Crips joined hands to help keep the peace. Citizens held hands in a line to protect the police. And a murder indictment was handed down on six officers who may have had a hand in the killing of one young black man.

In 1968, I took a bus out to the West Side of Chicago the day after the riots. I took pictures of smoking ruins. I took them with a camera held down by my side, surreptitiously because I was too cowardly to put it up to my eye and shoot. A skinny young white chick out there capturing the ruination of a black neighborhood for reasons. Not a reporter. Just curiosity. And some driving need to understand something. I don't know where those pictures are today.

I remember all the people, black and white, who kept mouthing the words, "Violence doesn't solve anything." And yet I noticed that, in the months and years to come, the West Side got some much-needed attention, some small part of it good. And I thought, violence doesn't solve anything, but sometimes it gets something done.