Just heard earlier today that, after one mistrial and three acquittals, the remaining three officers’ charges were dropped in the case of the murder of Freddie Gray. I feel sad and angry at the state of our justice system, although at least it can be said that the charges were brought here in Baltimore, as opposed to so many other places where police are so often not even charged or go to trial for their killings of black people.
I guess I don’t really know which of the six officers is most responsible for his death, and that was part of the problem for the trials too. There was not enough evidence to convict any one of them, and the lawyers for each were able to cast blame upon the others (and on the rest of police leadership/culture). The driver wasn’t responsible for buckling in Freddie Gray; he deferred to the Lieutenant who was of higher rank. The Lieutenant wasn’t responsible; it was too crowded with hostile bystanders at the scene of the arrest, and after the van started moving he became the driver’s responsibility. And of course, none of them are responsible since somehow, although it has been law in Maryland since 1986 for non-police to use seat belts while driving or riding in a car, somehow it has only been police policy in Baltimore to seat-belt prisoners since 2-3 days before Gray’s arrest, and none of the officers got/read the email in those few days.
Again, what is outrageous is less the outcome of any single trial (many observers agree that evidence presented was lacking, and the no-snitching culture of the police equals or exceeds that of the streets), than the fact that no one was held accountable for such a clearly wrongful death. Gray should not have been arrested in the first place (why the hell is it probable cause to arrest someone for running?); even after being arrested, he should have been seat-belted in the van (common sense, and law in most states); and it is likely that he was taken for a ‘rough ride’ to punish him for running and ‘making’ the police officers chase after him (there was video of the van swerving many times over the yellow line).
There are still reminders, with every new incident, and with every failure to charge or indict or convict, that black lives do not matter to our society as much as white lives. Not to mention “blue lives”, which are clearly valued (e.g. Dallas, outpouring of support, shooter killed by robot immediately even without trial). As many have said, no one is arguing that only black lives matter, but that black lives should and do matter as much as any others. And this, to me, is self-evidently true and worth fighting for, just like being a feminist means that we should all support equal rights for women. And yet, both of these still (somehow) ignite controversy.
I leave you with two videos: a Samantha Bee clip with her team interviewing folks at the Republican National Convention about Black Lives Matter, for a humorous take on people hating on BLM without understanding anything about it, and an interesting spin at the end; and a video of musician Raury singing his song “Fly”.