Saturday, May 2, 2015

Baltimore Police Case Being Politicized And Racialized - By Those In Charge

I wasn't surprised to hear that the state's attorney in Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, charged the six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray. The evidence made public so far indicates that police procedures were not followed exactly and somehow Freddie Gray ended up dead.  A trial will help sort things out.

I was, however, surprised by a few things in the announcement. I wasn't expecting all six to be charged. I figured one, maybe two would be charged and charges against the others would be dropped. Some legal analysts believe Ms. Mosby will now play the officers against each other hoping that one or two will testify against the others. It's an old tactic used by the police themselves when interrogating suspects. We will have to see if it works.

I was surprised that three of the six police officers are black. I found it interesting that last evening, after the charges were announced and the officers' identities were made public, the whole "Black Lives Matter" mantra changed somewhat since black officers were involved. Suddenly it wasn't white cops that couldn't be trusted but anyone in the blue uniform. Some of the people on the street in Baltimore were asked if it mattered that three of the officers were black and they said no - it was anyone who wore the uniform. Some left wing bloggers said "It's common for co-workers to pick up the attitudes of those they work with," meaning that the black officers had obviously picked up the racist attitudes of their white co-workers.

Just two days ago it was about black men being killed by white cops. Now it's white cops and those black cops that have developed the white cops' racism that are killing black men. Someone always has to play the race card - no matter how ridiculous it sounds.

From listening to legal experts talking about the charges I began wondering if Ms. Mosby can prove the second degree murder charge. Second degree murder means there was an intent to kill. Unless she has information that has not been made public (which is certainly possible) that shows intent, the most she seems to have at this point is manslaughter, but even that seems questionable since they have yet to determine exactly how and when Freddie Gray was injured.

The definition of manslaughter is "the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought." To convict on a manslaughter charge she will have to show that one or more of the officers directly caused the death of Freddie Gray. That fact that he died while in police custody is not enough to convict on a manslaughter charge. It seems, and the legal experts I listened to last night agreed, the best Ms. Mosby has (again - unless she has information she has not revealed) is negligence on the part of the officers that lead to Mr. Gray's death. Negligence is a civil case, not criminal.

What really surprised me is how the prosecutor, after reading all of the facts that led her to her decision, decided to politicize the case.

"To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America. I heard your call for “no justice, no peace,” she said. "Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man….."

Her call for peace in the city was fine. But her job is to find the truth and to perform her duties without bias or prejudice. The demand of "No justice, no peace" should have no bearing on her decisions. If she charged the six officers because of this demand she failed in her duties as an unbiased state's attorney. And that certainly seems to be the case.

She closed by speaking to the very young people that were responsible for much of the damage and looting that took place early last week.

“I will seek justice on your behalf,” she said. “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. As young people, our time is now.”

Again, the call for peace was appropriate. But justice is supposed to be about all people, not a bunch of violent, unlawful street demonstrators who burn and loot businesses. Her statements legitimized the violence.

Another thing that surprised me is how the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, made the whole case racial. Following the announcement of the charges against the police officers, Mayor Rawlings-Blake spoke to...  wait for it... an event held by Al Sharpton's "National Racism Action Network," where she said “If, with the nation watching, three black women at three different levels (referring to herself, Marilyn Mosby and newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch) can’t get justice and healing for this community, you tell me where we’re going to get it in our country.”

So now it's about black justice? Justice is supposed to be blind. Justice is supposed to be about truth. You'd think Mayor Rawlings-Blake, after having to backtrack statements concerning the violence that was occurring in her city, would have been more careful in her choice of words. I guess your words are directed to your specific audience. 

An attorney for the police officers union said yesterday that the six officers "followed their training" and "did nothing wrong." If the information that has been released is true that officers are required to put seat belts on suspects in the back of the van (and at least two Baltimore police officers, speaking anonymously, have verified it) then they did at least one thing wrong. And according to recent news reports the knife that Mr. Gray had on his person when he was arrested was not illegal. So was his arrest unlawful? Ms. Mosby says it was. But then - she seems to have a personal interest in the case.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this case. Sadly there is one reality that everyone must understand - if the police officers are not convicted the violence in Baltimore will be worse than it has already been. Remember the Rodney King case? Some of the protesters were asked last night what would happen if the cops were not convicted. They made it pretty clear that the violence would begin again. They'll begin the destruction again if they don't get their way.

So much for "justice."

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