How ‘The Wire’ Season 2 Prepared Us for America’s White Insurrection

The show’s embittered longshoremen presage the mentality of the Capitol Hill terrorists

David Dennis, Jr.
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“The Wire” Photo: HBO

There’s a scene in “Duck and Cover,” the eighth episode of The Wire’s second season, that has been on my mind for the past two weeks.

In the scene, detectives Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski and Lester Freamon are cracking the code behind tracking the longshoremen’s illegal drug-smuggling shipments. Prez notes that they uncovered Frank Sobotka’s scheme much more easily than they did the Barksdale operation in the Baltimore projects. Rather than sending codes like the Barksdale crew did, Sobotka and his fellow longshoremen made direct phone calls using their real numbers and talking plainly about their criminal activity.

“Not as careful as Barksdale’s people were,” Prez says.

“This ain’t West Baltimore,” Freamon responds. “They’re doing it on their phones because they don’t expect us to be on them.”

Those two lines of dialogue encompass the Black experience in America — but also the dichotomy between Black Lives Matter protests and the spoiled man’s race riot on the Capitol. The ingenuity of the Barksdale codes, as Freamon explains, came out of necessity: Black neighborhoods have to…

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David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us