Friday, May 1, 2015
The Baltimore Indictments: It's Troubling
Today's blockbuster news is that 6 Baltimore police officers have been charged in the death of Freddy Gray. I want to comment on this, but with a degree of caution.
I don't yet know what the circumstances of Gray's death are. I don't know if the cops had sufficient cause to engage him in the first place. There are background stories going around that Gray, a known drug dealer, was engaged in a drug deal when the cops confronted him leading to a chase and him being tackled. True or not- I don't know.
We also don't know if his critical spinal cord injury occurred during the struggle on the street or inside the police van. One report says an officer was pinning Gray on the ground with his knee on his neck and that Gray was complaining he couldn't breathe. Did he inflict his own injuries inside the van as reported? Should the cops have buckled Gray in when they put him in the van? I don't know, and there is no sense trying to try this case in this column. It may very well be that one or more officers crossed the line or was neglectful in his duties leading to Gray's death. We just don't know.
I must, however express concern over the manner in which this indictment has been announced. The public comments by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings- Blake and the State Prosecutor, appointed to this case, Marilyn Mosby, were inappropriate. Telling a crowd that you have heard their cries of "No justice, No peace" and that you are going to get justice for Freddy Gray smacks of a lynch mob atmosphere. The celebrations on the streets of Baltimore are also troubling. Can it really be that this is a case of mob justice in the making?
Mosby has been asked to remove herself from the case based on a claim of conflict of interest. She has a relationship with the Gray family attorney and is married to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby, who has been front and center and on television during the past week. Yesterday, he blamed the mess that exists and has existed in Baltimore on things like Reaganomics, stop and frisk, mass incarceration and "contraband". Here is the CNN transcript of the interview by Chris Cuomo.
CUOMO: Is this on you guys? The mayor is a Democrat, you're a Democrat, 50 years of Democratic rule here, and is this an idea that you haven't gotten it done as a party, as a structure here, and is that the focus on the blame?
MOSBY: Leadership is not based off of party lines, and at the end of the day, have individuals failed in this city, in this state, in this country? Yes. Have there been failed policies? Yes. Have things adversely affected places like Baltimore? Yes, whether you're talking about Reaganomics, whether you're talking about the contraband where they talk about stop and frisk procedures or mass incarceration. All of these things directly play into recidivism and play into the things that plague these communities. So it's all about leadership and not necessarily about parties.
Actually, if you listen to the tape, Mosby appears to say, "Iran contraband", whatever that refers to. Did CNN clean up the transcript?
But I digress. Mosby has no wish to admit that long years of Democratic control of Baltimore (and numerous other cities) has resulted in nothing but misery.
In the final analysis, the guilt or innocence of these officers must be decided by a fair and impartial jury without the pressure of the mobs outside. I don't think that can be accomplished in Baltimore given the current climate and the attitudes of the city's leaders.