Amidst yesterday’s upsetting escalation of protesting and violence in Baltimore, CNN viewers were treated to a bit of levity: A dancing protester mooned police on live television. Video of CNN’s live coverage of the demonstrations, centered around protests following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody, shows a line of police in riot gear standing prepared for the protests to continue Monday afternoon. As a former state police officer speaks to CNN host Brooke Baldwin about the potential for anti-police violence, the camera zooms in on a man carrying a shopping bag. He dances in front of the waiting officers before promptly turning around, dropping his pants, and slapping his bare behind. The video then cuts back to Baldwin, who looks... less than happy.
After throwing her hands in the air, Baldwin interrupts to apologize for the footage, saying:
[There was] an image that I just want to apologize that we showed you here, um, that happened. This is what’s happening live on the streets of Baltimore, and if you missed it, that’s a good thing. ... But this is what’s happening in the city. Broad daylight, on the day that 25-year-old Freddie Gray was laid to rest, on the day that this family is asking, please, for peace, you are seeing these pictures play out.
There’s a certain irony in Baldwin’s outrage that someone had the temerity to moon the police on the day of Gray’s funeral, given the events that would follow later in the evening. While showing someone your bare ass might not be the most respectful gesture, it seems positively tame compared to what did happen: Looting, burning cars, a drug store set on fire, fifteen police officers injured (with six remaining in critical condition), and more than 200 people arrested. After seeing the images of Baltimore this morning—littered with debris, ash, broken glass, and still-smoking cars—I think that, for most of us, a man protesting by showing off his butt seems like the most benign thing to have happened.