Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced today that all six officers being charged for the death of Freddie Gray have been indicted by a Grand Jury. They are set to be arraigned on July 2. More to come as the story develops.
A group of protesters in Baltimore stood their ground again tonight and civilly disobeyed the 10 PM curfew currently being enforced by the city. While details of this incident are obscure, we see that one officer pepper-sprays the man, and then a few seconds later another officer comes up behind him and violently pulls him to the ground by his locks. Three officers then proceed to drag his body off the street as if removing a dead deer carcass off the highway. Totally uncalled for, in my opinion.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby just made the announcement that six officers will be charged in the death of Freddie Gray. According to the Baltimore Sun, the charges are as follows:
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office. A man who answered the phone at Goodson’s home declined to comment and hung up the phone.
Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
Let’s hope justice is served in full to all those who played a role in this tragedy.
Donta Allen, the man who was in custody with Freddie Gray in the back of the police van, spoke with WBAL TV yesterday to clarify his side of the story. His account of what happened in the van definitely doesn’t support the BPD officers’. At the station, he says he overheard a conversation the officers were having in which one of them said, “We gave him [Gray] a run for his money.” He goes on to note that all he heard in the van was “a little banging” for approximately four seconds, which he later on took to mean that Gray’s body was “wobbling” in the back “because he was dying.” Other than that, he says it was a “smooth ride to the police station.” He insisted that there is no way he could have hurt himself in the back of the paddy wagon, so whatever injuries he had sustained happened to him before he was put in there.
Joseph Kent’s newly appointed attorney Steve Beatty spoke with CNN’s Don Lemon last night to set the record straight on what Kent’s motives were for breaking the citywide curfew. He also relays a message from Kent asking that people not commit any violence in his name. For now, Kent remains in jail on a curfew violation charge.
Twitter user @POPSspotsports has come forward with some interesting pictures and recollections from his encounter with Baltimore activist Joseph Kent last night. This young man was not only peaceful, he was assisting police and also acted as a mediator between them and the protesters. This is someone who was clearly not anti-police, not a ‘thug’, not provocative, not inciting riots, etc.
Many viewers looked on in disbelief last night as they saw a slow moving humvee pull up beside 21-year-old Baltimore activist and Morgan University student Joseph Kent while a group of National Guardsmen suddenly descend upon him, snatch him up, and put him in the vehicle before getting in themselves. The clip quickly went viral on social media with people demanding to know, “where is Joseph Kent?”
It’s being reported that he was arrested for violating the 10 PM curfew that went into effect yesterday. Baltimore attorney Steve Beatty says Kent is currently being held at the CBIF (Central Booking & Intake Facility) and is waiting to be let upstairs to see him.
Many are criticizing the way that Kent was detained, calling it a violation of rights and likening it to blackbag kidnapping. We can probably assume Kent was not read his Miranda rights, either. I have just one question for all the pacificists and peaceful protest advocates:
Do you approve of this? What Kent did was simply an act of civil disobedience, he was not harming anyone or destroying anything, and yet he was still snatched up just like anyone else would be.
UPDATE: Good news from Steve Beatty:
When the incident first aired, many speculated the mother was hitting him out of embarrassment or punishing him for being ‘stupid’. This is partially true. In an interview with CBS News, she says she was worried about his safety since he is her only son; she didn’t want him to a Freddie Gray. She goes on to say she does not support vandalization asserting that, “that’s not justice.” This is definitely a genuine concern for a mother, so her reaction is very understandable. However, I do commend the young man for having the heart to take a stand for what he felt was right, and hope he will continue to channel that energy into positive and productive outlets in his community as he grows.
Baltimore Bloods & Pirus spoke with WBAL TV last night and clarified that local gangs did not call a truce to cause any harm to police, contrary to what the BPD has allowed to be promoted by the media. They acknowledge that although some of them are taking a non-violent stance, others within their respective gangs may not, which is a choice they do not condone, but are understanding of. The BPD and the media’s vilification of this truce and the parties involved is reminiscent of what constantly went on during the Black Panther era, and pretty much any other time Black People came together for a cause that threatened the status quo.
Word is starting to spread like wildfire across social media that the Nation of Islam has had a hand in forging a truce between long-time rival gangs the Bloods and the Crips in Baltimore. According to a recent report by CounterCurrentNews:
Reports among members indicate that members of the Nation of Islam organization brokered the truce, much the same as happened in Los Angeles two decades ago.
“I can say with honesty those brothers demonstrated they can be united for a common good,” Carlos Muhammad, a minister at Nation of Islam’s Mosque No. 6 said.
“At the rally, they made the call that they must be united on that day. It should be commended,” he continued.
“We can unite and stop killing one another, and the Bloods and the Crips can help rebuild their community,” Muhammad said in an interview with theThe Daily Beast.
A community organizer, DeRay McKesson, confirmed the ceasefire between the groups.
“The fight against police brutality has united people in many ways that we have not seen regularly, and that’s really powerful,” McKesson said.
“The reality is, police have been terrorizing black people as far back as we can remember. It will take all of us coming together to change a corrupt system,” he added.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged the peace-brokering efforts of the Nation of Islam, singling them out specifically for helping to stop the violence in the community.
This is not the only information that has surfaced, however. An e-mail from the Baltimore Police Department that seems to be a response to this truce states that the alliance is a ‘credible threat’ to law enforcement agencies and they are told to take necessary precautions. The e-mail also states that the Black Guerilla Family has joined up with the Bloods & Crips, and various posts on social media claim GD’s are standing in solidarity as well. It appears these groups are not a threat when they are a divided and warring against each other, just when they unite and decide to take a stand against police brutality.
With scenes of the Michael Brown protests in Ferguson, MO still ripe in the minds of many, the clips that have been circulating of what took place in the Freddie Gray protests yesterday should not come as a surprise. In fact, they should be expected. Because when such displays of extreme disregard for human life are the catalyst for these actions, in communities where many of its downtrodden occupants already feel like they and others who look like them are walking targets, it is inevitable. Then, those whose duty it is to hold criminals accountable have the audacity to put the perpetrators of these contemptible acts on administrative leave with pay, while imposing mandatory curfews on those demanding justice and telling them how and where to protest. No, that’s not how it works. You do not get to dictate how the People choose to express themselves when your actions and/or failure to take necessary action is/are the reason(s) the People are protesting in the first place.
If we allow those whom we are protesting against to determine what is acceptable and what is not without applying any type of pressure, what is stopping these things from happening again if they feel they can contain the level of response? And if they know the People will ultimately acquiesce to their requests? Could this be a reason why we are seeing no change in the excessive use of police force across the country?
Besides police, I have heard quite a few people pass judgment on how protesters choose to express themselves. If you aren’t living in the same conditions as many of them or are so far removed from the urban community and the experiences of those living there that you can’t empathize with their struggle, then what right do you have to tell them how they should conduct their protests? How can one remain peaceful when your People have been getting harassed, assaulted, and killed by those whose job it is to protect and serve you and getting away with it for generations? How can you keep faith in the idea that justice will be served when time after time, it isn’t?
Do I condone one form of protest over another? No. I just am not naïve enough to believe that simply protesting peacefully is the only answer. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was as peaceful as they come, and he was still shot down in cold blood. Not everyone who uses aggressive action as a form of protest is a thug, hoodlum, animal, or opportunist; many of them are just tired of not being heard. If they were to take their aggression out on the police rather than their surroundings, then what would you say?
When things like social unrest start moving into areas like Downtown Baltimore, as shown in the video below, where the people of higher classes are known to frequent, clearly there is a communication barrier that exists that we all need to address, because the death of Freddie Gray is not just a Black issue, it is a human issue. To some, the Orioles game or the White House Correspondents Dinner held more value than showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters (Black, Brown, White, whatever) in demanding justice for this man’s life. And let’s be realistic, telling people to make sure they vote in the next ballot or election does absolutely nothing to help them right now. You can’t expect those being affected to just sit on their hands and remain passive until the polls open while injustice continues to plague their communities. Enough is enough. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the protests in Baltimore, check this extensive article written by WBALTV. What are your thoughts on the protests and the current state of society in the U.S.?