Friday, May 29, 2015

Baltimore Mayor: "The Police Don't Trust The Commissioner"

So said Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland - a city under siege.

In the weeks since the protests over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, the violence in Baltimore has increased dramatically. Over the Memorial Day weekend there were 28 shootings in town, 9 of them fatal. The murder total in the city for 2015 already stands at 108. In 2014 there were 211 murders for the year. They're more than halfway there in less than five months.

There are several reasons for the increased violence (besides the thuggery that is going on in the Baltimore communities right now, that is.)

Baltimore police officers have curbed their activities on the streets to strictly "by the book" actions. They have stopped being proactive - as in they don't do anything based on suspicion but only respond to actual calls. Why? Since the mayor threw the entire police department under the bus, called them all racists, and, without a trial, basically proclaimed the six officers arrested as guilty of murdering Freddie Gray, the officers are afraid if they make a mistake of any kind they will be arrested and charged. Many have stated this to the Commissioner and some have even gone public.

Many police officers in Baltimore no doubt see the mayor and the prosecutor (Marilyn Mosby) as biased against police and sympathetic toward the criminals, and perhaps even racially biased. Although three of the six officers arrested in the Gray case are black, the comments made by the prosecutor and the mayor immediately following their arrests lead one to believe that the two city officials are motivated by race as much as anything.

Speaking to Al Sharpton's National Race Baiting Action Network, Mayor Rawlings-Blake posed the following question about the arrests made in the Gray case:

“If, with the nation watching, three black women at three different levels can’t get justice and healing for this community, you tell me where we’re going to get it in our country?” referring to herself, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. If that's not racially biased it is, at the very least, devoid of the pursuit of true justice. (Just imagine if a white mayor had made a statement like that about her and two other white women.) 

The day State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the charges against the six officers she too decided to throw a little bias into the case when she said "To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America. I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace.' Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man." She followed it with this: "To the youth of this city: I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment, this is your moment. Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now."

The Washington Post called her remarks "amazing" and some would say she was speaking to all of the young people in Baltimore. But those paying attention know that only the young blacks were rioting, burning, looting, and attacking police. It's not difficult to discern to whom she was speaking. 

And let's look at the other content of her remarks. She said she will "work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man." She laid out all of the charges against him, some of which were changed when they were proved baseless by the police union and the attorneys for the accused. Justice is supposed to be for the people, not for a victim whose death cannot be proved to be malicious or intentional. She also said "As  young people, our time is now." So does that mean in her office if you're not young you've got nothing coming? 

Then, after telling the public all about what she was doing to prosecute her case, she requested a gag order on the defendants, their attorneys and witnesses in the case to prevent "tainting the jury pool." She got her information out there to potential jurors then asked the judge not to let the defense do the same thing. Talk about a biased and unfair prosecutor.

Instead of justice being blind it seems this woman might be blind to justice.

Police have also encountered a new development in their dealings with suspects on the streets. Even when they are called to respond they are often met by crowds of civilians who gather around them, taunting, mocking, and taking videos of the encounters. In some cases the police have been forced to back off and leave the scene rather than get aggressive with the crowds. So they are not currently fighting crime aggressively in Baltimore - mostly for their own safety and security. And who can blame them?

Interestingly, those same civilians who have been so critical of the police's actions before the rioting are now complaining because the police aren't doing enough. Some law abiding residents of Baltimore are securing themselves in their homes, afraid to be out in the streets.

The police commissioner, Anthony Batts, also a black man, initially sided with the mayor in this case. Apparently he has since seen the error in his ways because recently he not only apologized to his officers but said he put them in harm's way during the rioting last month.

The Commissioner spoke to his officers at a union meeting on Wednesday.

"I want to come here and tell you guys that I think I let you guys down," he said. "I say that with a humble heart, I say that with honesty, and I say it coming from my heart."

Commissioner Batts told the officers he "saw this stuff coming," apparently referring to the unrest.

"In my intuition, I didn't stay with it," he said. "People said, 'We haven't had a riot here in 40 years,' and my intuition told me I should've went another direction. And by not going another direction, my guys got hurt. By not going with my intuition, my guys got hurt. By not going with my intuition, I put you guys in a tough position."

I would agree with him. I think perhaps he really does get it, although calls for his resignation have already begun among the rank and file officers and the damage may be irreparable.

"We had a 9-year-old kid shot yesterday by these knuckleheads, gangsters, thugs, whatever you want to call them," he said Wednesday. "We have innocent people getting shot on the streets of Baltimore.

"People think we're down. People are giving up on us," Batts said. "I mean this with all my heart: We need to show how ******* good we are. I stand ready to lead you out of this."

The mayor, however, is deferring responsibility for the police department's recent slowdown away from herself when it is more about her than it is the commissioner. (She's pretty good at throwing people under the bus.) Sure, he could have told her she was wrong and dealt with the rioting in an aggressive manner - at the risk of his own job. I'm thinking in retrospect he wishes he had done that. But the mayor herself was responsible for the police standing down and allowing the rioting, looting and burning. She got the philosophy from being a member of Obama's task force following the Ferguson riots. It's not difficult to see that yet another Obama policy is a complete failure.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake needs to stand up, take responsibility for her words and actions, apologize to the police department and take her lumps. But since she denied even saying she "gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well" despite video proof of her statement, then said her words were taken out of context, I find it highly unlikely that will ever happen. Yet another worthless Democrat mayor in a city that is failing.

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