Protest about Freddy Gray and Prosecutor Mosby’s Amazing Press Conference

 
     Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore state attorney, spoke very impressively in announcing arrest warrants for the 6 officers who murdered Freddy Gray.  As I noted yesterday here, she responded to all the protest – she heard, as she says below, the cry “no justice, no peace.”  She demanded a swift, independent investigation (her investigators stood behind her); she also checked with the police department, the sheriff’s department and the governor (who ordered a speedy coroner’s report which turned out to be one of homicide).

***

      Her action reveals accountability, a first in the series of nationally publicized police homicides (the sheriff in North Charleston did denounce the murder of Walter Scott, but it was plain on video; this is a different kind of investigation, speaking sharply to evidence not all of which can yet be seen in public although the stopping of a man for running and severing his spine in police custody is clear to everyone outside the “authorities”).

***

     Mosby made herself accountable, spoke with genuine authority.  She  also has great credibility because her mother and father were both police officers, her grandfather a founder of the Black Policeman’s Association in Boston (She also had a cousin shot dead by the police on her family’s doorstep).  She was able to speak both to protestors and to the police – that not all police are responsible for the horrors of some – with great force.

***

     Baltimore’s police are, in fact, racist occupiers of an oppressed community.  That she did not say.  But her striking swiftly to gather evidence of murder and charge those responsible coupled with her police background is likely to rally any decent officer (and make some others wake up).

***

     What she has done, if carried out in the prosecution itself,  may actually mark a turning point in the country (given the protests from below – she hear and speaks to young people – as well as pressure from the comparatively sane part of the elite: see below).  Her words are worth listening to.

***

Washington Post

Marilyn Mosby’s 

amazing press 

conference

By Jonathan Capehart May 1  

Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, speaks during 
a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
When she approached the microphones, Baltimore City 
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby looked too young for 
someone in such a big job. When the 35-year-old 
started speaking, Mosby sounded a little shaky as 
she raced through her remarks. But when she got 
to the heart of the matter, the arrest of Freddie Gray 
and the horrific actions that led to his death, Mosby 
revealed herself to be a tough prosecutor whose 
closing message to the community and to law 
enforcement will go a long way to calming the 
tensions in Charm City.
What Mosby told an anxious Baltimore and nation 
was not easy to hear. Police officers “illegally arrested” 
Gray after making eye contact with him on April 12.
 The pocket knife subsequently found in Gray’s pocket 
“was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland 
law.” Gray was shackled at his ankles, handcuffed 
behind his back and placed in the back of the police 
wagon on his stomach unrestrained. There were 
many stops of that wagon. Many requests by Gray
 for medical assistance that started almost immediately
 upon his arrest. All were ignored. By the time they 
arrived at the police station more than an hour later, 
Gray was unresponsive and “in cardiac arrest.”
Marilyn Mosby announces charges in Freddie Gray case(1:33)

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state’s attorney, says city 
police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray will 
face criminal charges, including homicide. (Reuters)
Mosby announced that Gray’s death was ruled a 
heard in the distance on television. No doubt a 
relief to a community long under the thumb of 
a police department that applied “undue force.”
 Of course, the charges announced mark the 
beginning not the end of the legal process. But 
they are a relief to a city and nation that has 
grown weary of police officers escaping 
legal accountability for their tragic actions.
Towards the end of her remarks, Mosby struck 
a beautiful balance between the righteous anger 
of the community and the necessary 
respect for law enforcement.
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…..
To the rank-and-file officers of the 
Baltimore city police department, please 
know that these accusations of these six 
officers are not an indictment on the entire 
force. I come from five generations of law 
enforcement. My father was an officer. My 
mother was an officer. Several of my 
aunts and uncles. My recently departed and 
beloved grandfather was one of the founding  
members of the black police organization in 
Massachusetts. I can tell you that the actions 
of these officers will not and should not in 
any way damage important working

relationships between police and prosecutors….
….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. [an

unusually apt thought for a public official}.

 You’re at the forefront of this cause. And

as young people, our time is now.
By using her personal story, Mosby planted her feet
 firmly in both camps. Her family’s deeply rooted 
history in law enforcement allowed her to say 
implicitly, “I know you” to Baltimore’s police. Her 
own standing as a young person, especially as a young 
city Boston, allowed her to say, in essence, “I am you.” 
The sincerity of her words and their emphatic delivery 
will go a long way in keeping Baltimore calm in the 
months ahead.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @CapehartJ

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial
 board and writes about politics and social issues 
for the PostPartisan blog.

   ***

As background, consider two signs in the corporate press – a hopeful one and a disastrous one.

       The hopeful one: the New York Times, developing President Obama, spoke clearly about the startling history of police murders – 100 cases settled out of court in the last three years, including a grandmother beaten, her shoulder broken, for calling an ambulance for her hurt grandson…

      Those responsible for the actions of the Baltimore police force – not just those who arrested Freddie Gray for looking an officer in the eye and running (with a smashed voice box and a severed backbone while in custody…) need to be arrested/removed from public life.

***

      Many voices spoke out, notably John Angelos, son of the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, against the racism (frequent from some white sportscasters and callers on sport shows) toward the protestors. But Angelos also has a deeper view:

    “Baltimore Orioles chief operating officer John Angelos…took to Twitter this weekend to defend the Baltimore protests after they were attacked on local sports radio. He wrote “my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.” (Democracy Now, April 28, 2015 here)

***

    Angelos rightly underscores President Reagan’s deindustrialization of the United States, the throwing away of blue collar jobs, and the failure of the federal government to have much public works and education programs to do something about it.  Angelos links this rightly to the increasing emergence of a gigantic American police state (surveillance; 25% of the world’s prisoners, 2.3 million – see Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow).

      Here is a sports owner who feels something for the country as well as the team…

***

    The column in the Times below from D. Watkins about how he was treated growing up by the Baltimore police, stopped for nothing, thrown on the ground, over and over, makes very clear whose side – a vicious occupying force – the police in Baltimore and around the country is.

“When I was 10, a group of thugs kicked in the door to my home, knocking it off the hinges, looking for drugs. They held my family and me at gunpoint for hours while they tore our house apart. When they left my mom called the cops; they arrived two hours later, treating us as if we were the crooks and complaining about writing the police reports.

When I was 12 I would play full-court basketball at Ellwood Park, on the city’s east side. One day the cops came through, saying they were looking for a robbery suspect. Suddenly about six officers entered the court from all four directions and made everyone lie on the ground, face down. A friend of mine, whom we called Fat Kevin, asked, “Why y’all treatin’ us like animals?” One of the cops shouted, “Because you are worthless!” though he also used a much more vulgar, and around here a much more common, term.

Then, when I was 14, a cop clothes-lined a kid named Rick off a moped. Rick hopped up, yelling, “What did I do?” and was instantly clubbed down by the cop and his partner. Rick’s face was badly bruised for weeks.”

Note, Watkins reports: black folks only call the police if they need them for an insurance claim (and probably think it over even then…)

***

    The disastrous one – in the main, with the exception of a story Tuesday from the Washington Post – the protestors are treated as thugs (the Mayor Rawlings apologized Wednesday, saying rightly that no one in Baltimore is a thug…).

     (One might except certain police officers for the time being, however…).

***

    Actually, as is available at Mother Jones below and here, the protests started when the Mondawmin bus station was shut down by police so that children couldn’t get a ride home from school.  That was the final straw, after the shooting and years of police violence.

***

    Note the police came out, with riot gear and tear gas, to provoke.   In a sign of the enmity of the elite for ordinary people within our “democracy,”  they gave young people to have no way to get home.

***

   The police caused the riot.  It was a police riot.

***

    The raw anger was such that Baltimore was set on fire (the film on BBC three nights ago was shocking).  This was a terrible mistake, as is the criminality, and counterproductive (the crimes are used to deflect attention from murders and beatings and false arrests by the police).

***

    Yet there are many stories of black heroism and trying to stop violence, (h/t Rachel Harding).

***

    Further in contrast to setting fires, serious, organized nonviolent protest – notably civil disobedience disrupting normal city procedure (sit ins at city hall for example or at city council meetings) around police obrutality and providing jobs –  would spotlight the now recognized (because of all the previous protest, Black Lives Matter!) the Occupying force.

    I offer this in a limited disagreement with Rob Prince’s fine essay on this mirror of the ’60s below.

***

    Even the Times rightly says that the police are at Occupying force, here and throughout the country, keeping down the unemployed, taking out veterans, grandmothers, boys on dirt bikes, 12 year old Tamir Rice: the epic saga of racist police murders goes on and on.

***

   Prosecutor Mosby has made an important statement, one of accountability to ordinary people.

***

     But the situation in the country can be changed only through a massive program for education and jobs. Such a program would benefit ordinary white folks as well.

      Dominique Hazzard invited all of us to imagine here (h/t Rachel Harding):

The Science Fiction of Freddie Gray

By diamond 10:17 am April 28, 2015
freddie gray
By Dominique Hazzard
Imagine, for a second, that Maryland governor Larry Hogan called for a state of emergency  when Freddie Gray’s spine was broken and his voice box was smashed he arrested for no reason.
Imagine that such violence toward a black life was so out of the ordinary, so horrifying, so damning, such a sign that swift and meaningful change was necessary, that it was enough to make an elected leader say, “This has crossed the line. The police state is out of control. We need to suspend our normal  operations and get some help from the National Guard. We need some outside resources to help quell these people, these actors of the state who are disturbing the peace.” Imagine that, in the absence of years of racial oppression, Baltimore ever knew peace in the first place.
Imagine that Freddie Gray was never arrested at all, that he wasn’t criminalized for looking at an officer the wrong way, for running from an institution that inflicts violence on black people every day.
Imagine that Freddie Gray never had to live in a city that is struggling to breathe under layers and layers of structural violence.
Imagine with me.
—–
Dominique Hazzard laughs in the face of the white heteropatriarchy while skipping merrily through the District, creating interfaith tools to address poverty, and eating bacon. Follow her on Twitter.”

***

     That is the America we need.

***

New York Times

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

In Baltimore, We’re All Freddie Gray

By D. WATKINS 

Photo

CreditOliver Munday     

BALTIMORE — AT the moment, what’s going on in Baltimore seems to be all about Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who was viciously attacked by police officers on April 12 more or less because he looked at them. They subdued him; his spine was nearly severed, his voice box was smashed and he was hauled off in a police van, even after he requested medical attention multiple times.He died a week later as result.


But it’s not only about Freddie Gray. 
Like him, I grew up in Baltimore, 
and I and everyone I know have 
similar stories, even if they 
happened to end a little
 differently. To us, the Baltimore 
Police Department is a group of 
terrorists, funded by our tax 
dollars, who beat on 
people in our community daily, 
almost never having to explain or 
pay for their actions. It’s gotten to 
the point that we don’t call cops 
unless we need a police report 
for an insurance claim.

And it’s about more than just
the cops. We’ve
watched as Mayor Stephanie
Rawlings-Blake, in conjunction 
with Police Commissioner Anthony 
W. Batts, spent over a week
investigating what appears to 
be an open-and-shut case. I’d
 like to think that if I broke a person’s
 neck for no reason, 
I’d be charged in minutes [no,
the police don’t even have to make
 public the records, just like 
in Ferguson]. But the system — even
when it’s run by a black mayor 
and a black commissioner, even 
when a majority of the 
City Council is black — protects
the police, no matter how 
blatant and brutal they are.
I can easily skip right past the
cases of innocent
 victims of police brutality who
received a combined
 amount of nearly $6 million in
settlements from the
city over the last three years, or
 Tyrone West, Anthony Anderson, 
Freddie Gray and the more than 
100 people killed by local police
officers in the last
decade, and dive straight into
some of the random
experiences I’ve had with cops
because I’m
black in Baltimore.
When I was 10, a group of thugs
 kicked in the door to my home, 
knocking it off the hinges, 
looking for drugs. They held
my family and me
 at gunpoint for hours while
they tore our house
 apart. When they left my
mom called the cops;
they arrived two hours later,
treating us as if we
 were the crooks and
complaining about writing
 the police reports.
When I was 12 I would play
full-court basketball
at Ellwood Park, on the city’s
 east side. One day the
cops came through, saying
they were looking
 for a robbery suspect. Suddenly
about six officers
‘entered the court from all four
directions and made everyone 
lie on the ground, face down. 
A friend of mine, whom we
called Fat Kevin,
 asked, “Why y’all treatin’ us
 like animals?” One
 of the cops shouted,
“Because you are worthless!”
though he also used a much more
vulgar, and around here a much
 more common, term.
Then, when I was 14, a cop
clothes-lined a
 kid named Rick off a moped.
Rick hopped up
, yelling, “What did I do?” and
was instantly
 clubbed down by the cop
 and his partner.
Rick’s face was badly
bruised for weeks.
I can throw in stories
 from the years in
 between, or the years
after, ranging from
pre-K to graduate school.
And whether
they were marching, or
torching a cop car, 
or cleaning up Tuesday
 morning, black
Baltimoreans have almost all
 had similar stories.
Most of the protests were 
peaceful. The first
 acts of violence didn’t occur
 until after a 
nonviolent, if agitated, 
protest Saturday 
night at City Hall. From there,
 a group of protesters, including
 myself, marched to Camden Yards, 
where the Orioles were 
playing the Boston Red Sox. As 
we passed a strip of bars, a group 
of white baseball fans
, wearing both Baltimore and
 Boston gear, 
were standing outside yelling, 
“We don’t
 care! We don’t care!” Some 
called us monkeys
 and apes. A fight broke out, 
and people were 
hurt. Many other Baltimoreans
 feel the same way, which is 
why a diverse collection 
of protesters has taken to 
the streets every day since 
Freddie Gray’s death on April 19.
The police officers in Baltimore,
 as in many places
 in the country with dense
 black populations,
are out of control, have been
out of control. One of the
 major reasons is that many 
Baltimore police officers don’t
 live in Baltimore
City; some don’t even live
 in Maryland. Many don’t 
know or care about the 
citizens of the communities they
 police, which is why they can
 come in, beat us and kill us without a 
sign of grief or empathy.
After that, it didn’t take much. Some
 people
might ask, “Why Baltimore?” But
 the real question is, “Why 
did it take so long?”
The young uprisers of Baltimore
 have been
 paying attention to the peaceful
protests in Sanford, Fla., 
Ferguson, Mo., and New York,
 only to be let down by the end result,
over and over again.
We are all starting to believe that
holding
hands, following pastors and
peaceful protests
are pointless.[mass nonviolent
shutting down of
 public functions is not the same
 as “peaceful
protests”; note that this important
 alternative is kept out of public 
discourse in the mainstream 
press.] The only option is to rise up,
 and force Mayor Rawlings-Blake
 to make what should 
be an easy choice: Stop
protecting the
livelihoods of the cops who
 killed Freddie Gray,
or watch Baltimore burn to the
 ground.

D. Watkins is the author of the forthcoming
 books “The Beastside,” an essay
collection, and “Cook Up,” a memoir.

***

  Mother Jones

Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn’t Start the Way You Think

Baltimore teachers and parents tell a different story from the one you’ve been reading in the media.

| Tue Apr. 28, 2015 6:00 PM EDT
Patrick Semansky/AP
After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation.
The funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody this month, had ended hours earlier at a nearby church. According to the Baltimore Suna call to “purge”—a reference to the 2013 dystopian film in which all crime is made legal for one night—circulated on social media among school-aged Baltimoreans that morning. The rumored plan—which was not traced to any specific person or group—was to assemble at the Mondawmin Mall at 3:00 p.m. and proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue toward downtown Baltimore. The Baltimore police department, which was aware of the “purge” call, prepared for the worst. Shortly before noon, the department issued a statement saying it had “received credible information that members of various gangs…have entered into a partnership to ‘take-out’ law enforcement officers.”
When school let out that afternoon, police were in the area equipped with full riot gear. According to eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, the police were stopping busses and forcing riders, including many students who were trying to get home, to disembark. Cops shut down the local subway stop. They also blockaded roads near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from the mall, and essentially corralled young people in the area. That is, they did not allow the after-school crowd to disperse.
Meghann Harris, a teacher at a nearby school, described on Facebook what happened:
Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn’t catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.
The kids were “standing around in groups of 3-4,” Harris said in a Facebook message to Mother Jones. “They weren’t doing anything. No rock throwing, nothing…The cops started marching toward groups of kids who were just milling about.”
A teacher at Douglass High School, who asked not to be identified, tells a similar story: “When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord.” Those who didn’t depart early, she says, were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point, she notes, wanted to get out of the area and avoid any Purge-like violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by now, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. “I rode with another teacher home,” this teacher recalls, “and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the road… The majority of my students thought what was going to happen was stupid or were frightened at the idea. Very few seemed to want to participate in ‘the purge.'”
A parent who picked up his children from a nearby elementary school, says via Twitter, “The kids stood across from the police and looked like they were asking them ‘why can’t we get on the buses’ but the police were just gazing…Majority of those kids aren’t from around that neighborhood. They NEED those buses and trains in order to get home.” He continued: “If they would’ve let them children go home, yesterday wouldn’t have even turned out like that.”
Meg Gibson, another Baltimore teacher, described a similar scene to Gawker: “The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall, turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board. They were waiting for the kids.…Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown.” With police unloading busses, and with the nearby metro station shut down, there were few ways for students to clear out.
Several eyewitnesses in the area that afternoon say that police seemed to arrive at Mondawmin anticipating mobs and violence—prior to any looting. At 3:01 p.m., the Baltimore Police Department posted on its Facebook page: “There is a group of juveniles in the area of Mondawmin Mall. Expect traffic delays in the area.” But many of the kids, according to eyewitnesses, were stuck there because of police actions.
The Baltimore Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Around 3:30, the police reported that juveniles had begun to throw bottles and bricks. Fifteen minutes later, the police department noted that one of its officers had been injured. After that the violence escalated, and rioters started looting the Mondawmin Mall, and Baltimore was in for a long night of trouble and violence. But as the event is reviewed and investigated, an important question warrants attention: What might have happened had the police not prevented students from leaving the area? Did the department’s own actions increase the chances of conflict?
As Meghann Harris put it, “if I were a Douglas student that just got trapped in the middle of a minefield BY cops without any way to get home and completely in harm’s way, I’d be ready to pop off, too.”
On social media, eyewitnesses chronicled the dramatic police presence before the rioting began:

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