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Second Officer Gets Off in Freddy Gray Death

On the surface, at least – it seems to be the same old story. I thought the “unlawful arrest” part would have won a conviction, at least for that. Which would have led to an administrative penalty. Don’t see the evidence that this guy was any more than the arresting officer.

Officer in Freddie Gray case found not guilty on all counts

Officer Edward Nero of the Baltimore police department was found not guilty Monday on all counts over the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man.

Nero had faced assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. Prosecutors said the 30-year-old unlawfully arrested Gray without probable cause and was negligent when he didn’t buckle the prisoner into a seat belt.

Nero opted for a bench trial rather than a jury trial.

After the verdict was read, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement saying that Nero is still expected to face an administrative review by the city’s police department. The mayor seemed to once again refer back to and warn against the violent unrest the gripped the city immediately following Gray’s death.

“We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion,” Rawlings-Blake said. “In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond. We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city.”

Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a police transport van while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained by a seat belt.

His death set off more than a week of protests followed by looting, rioting and arson that prompted a citywide curfew. His name became a rallying cry in the growing national conversation about the treatment of black men by police officers.

Shortly after Gray’s death, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged six officers. Three of them are black; Nero and two others are white.

Nero’s attorney argued that his client didn’t arrest Gray and that it is the police van driver’s responsibility to buckle in detainees. The defense argued that the officers who responded that day acted responsibly, and called witnesses to bolster their argument that any reasonable officer in Nero’s position would have made the same decisions.

The defense also sought to convince the judge that the department’s order requiring that all inmates be strapped in is more suggestion than rule because officers are expected to act with discretion based on the circumstances of each situation.

Nero is the second officer to stand trial. Officer William Porter’s manslaughter trial ended with a hung jury.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Mistrial in First Freddy Gray Policeman Case!

Mistrial as Jury cannot come to a verdict…

Mistrial declared in trial of Officer William Porter in death of Freddie Gray

A mistrial was declared Wednesday in the trial of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter, after jurors told a judge it could not reach a verdict on any of the four charges against him.

The panel had informed the judge on Tuesday that it was deadlocked, and Judge Barry G. Williams ordered them to continue deliberations.

Porter, 26, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He is the first of six police officers to stand trial in the death of Freddie Gray.

Gray, 25, suffered a broken neck and severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police transport van after his arrest on April 12. His death a week later prompted widespread protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by the most intense riotingand looting in the city since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged Porter and five other officers in Gray’s arrest and death on May 1, and many have watched the proceedings in Porter’s trial closely.

Now that a mistrial has been declared, it is up to prosecutors to decide whether to put Porter on trial again. In making that decision, prosecutors must weigh their chances of securing a conviction in a subsequent trial, said J. Amy Dillard, associate processor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Freddy Gray’s Mother Attempts Suicide

Really sad…All that money doesn’t erase pain.

Sources: Mother Of Freddie Gray Tries To Take Her Own Life

WJZ has learned the mother of Freddie Gray, the man who died in police custody last April, has attempted suicide.

Rick Ritter has more on what happened.

WJZ has confirmed with multiple sources in the past hour that Gloria Darden, the mother of Freddie Gray, tried to take her life late Wednesday night.

The call came in around 9:35 p.m. Wednesday for a person needing medical attention in a north Baltimore neighborhood.

Sources tell WJZ that’s where Gloria Darden, the mother of Freddie Gray, attempted suicide and sustained superficial wounds.

Sources say Darden was transported to a nearby hospital and no surgery or stitches were needed.

Darden’s son, 25-year-old Freddie Gray, was arrested back on April 12 and was injured when taken into police custody. He died a week later, triggering unrest throughout the city.

Just weeks ago, Baltimore awarded Gray’s family $6.4 million to settle civil claims.

Sources tell WJZ that Gray’s mother is currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in American Genocide, BlackLivesMatter

 

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Baltimore Settles With Freddy Gray Family for $6.4 Million

One of the reasons Republicans oppose Trial Lawyers is that the best way to reform a corrupt system is to make the results of that corruption (or racism) cost real money. Now I have no idea whether Baltimore officials will, can, or even know how to resolve the issues in Baltimore – but it has to be cheaper to the City and it’s taxpayers than continuing with the current system.

Racism literally shaves $2 Trillion a year off the US economy…Maybe it is time to stop feeding the racist trolls who are defending the status quo of unaccountability for some (usually white in their reference) folks.

A pile of money – sometimes the only way to motivate long resisted change

Freddie Gray’s Family To Receive $6.4 Million Wrongful Death Settlement: Report

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Baltimore city officials have reached a $6.4 million wrongful death settlement in the death of Freddie Gray, citing two people with knowledge of the agreement.

Details of the proposed settlement could be released by city officials as early as Tuesday.

Gray, 25, sustained a severe spinal injury after being taken into custody by Baltimore police. He died on April 19. Autopsy reports showed Gray had a single “high-energy injury,” which was most likely caused by a “rough ride” in the back of a police van. He was handcuffed and not secured by a seatbelt, and the injury likely occurred when the van decelerated quickly. His death was ruled a homicide, based on police failure to follow safety procedures.

What happened before and after Gray’s arrest is still unclear. But the Baltimore Police Department admitted on April 24 that Gray had not received timely medical care. In May, all six officers involved in the death of Gray were charged and indicted.

The settlement would need approval from Baltimore’s Board of Estimates, which handles the city’s spending, according to The Washington Post. The Board is expected to meet on Wednesday. In addition to the payout, Baltimore police officers would be required to wear body cameras.

The city has paid out around $5.7 million in police brutality settlements since 2011, according to a 2014 Baltimore Sun analysis.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Domestic terrorism, The New Jim Crow

 

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Officers Involved In Freddy Gray Death to Be Tried

Earlier today a judge rejected a motion by the defense to dismiss the case against the 6 Officers involved in Freddy Gray’s death. Following that – a ruling on how the trial(s) would be conducted…

Trying the officers separately, will be a longer process, but will establish individual culpability.

Baltimore Officers To Be Tried Separately Over Freddie Gray Death

It’s “not in the interest of justice” to try them together, a judge ruled.

A judge has ruled that all six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with Freddie Gray’s death will be tried separately.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams denied the state’s motions to try three of the officers as a group. He said evidence against any of the three is not mutually admissible and “not in the interest of justice.”

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died a week after sustaining injuries following his arrest on April 12.

His death sparked riots and unrest in Baltimore for days following his funeral.

The trial for all six officers was initially set for Oct. 13. Dates for the new trials have not yet been set.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Twisted – Freddy Gray and MLK

 

Yeah…I got a problem with this. Putting Freddy Gray, a victim of out of control police violence in Baltimore next to Martin Luther King seems a bit of appropriation that just doesn’t belong here. Martin developed a philosophy, moved a nation with his words, and fought against the forces of Jim Crow oppression, and ultimately gave his life. He stood up, knowing exactly the extent to which racist forces in America would go, suffering imprisonment and beatings for the simple act of non-violent resistance, and ultimately being murdered. Gray was a street kid and a drug dealer. Which doesn’t make his murder right at the hands of Baltimore Cops…But he “ain’t no hero” in terms of what he may or may not have accomplished while alive. He is a small part of a black community which suffers in small part due to his illicit acts.

Injustice in this case was a purely personal event.

Seems folks worry more about the racial background of a few folks working to end this type of injustice…Than the fact those folks are working for the betterment of the entire American community.

And no – I am not buying into the black-on-black crime racist meme – because all crime in a largely segregated America is intra-racial. Crime is more a statement of opportunity, than any wall painted large of cultural or racial dysfunction. The most dangerous thing for the BlackLivesMatter movement is an identification with the victim, instead of a disgust and opposition to the crime, and it ever happening again. I don’t think (and I hope) that is any secret to the folks at BlackLivesMatter.

3 year old Mckenzie Elliot, whose murderer has yet to be brought to justice.

 

“He shouldn’t be up there with Martin Luther King”: A mural of Freddie Gray with the civil rights leader provokes disgust, on my ride-along with the Baltimore Police

The streets are quiet tonight in West Baltimore. I’m in the backseat of a car on a ride-along with two Baltimore City police officers in late May, nearly a month after the riots following the death of Freddie Gray. There have been 26 murders this month to date, a number that will leapfrog to 43 before May draws to a close.

The media is calling this a “surge in violence” and touting theories to account for the spike, everything from officer apathy to a plethora of looted prescription drugs flooding the market and causing gang violence, but tonight the streets of West Baltimore are largely deserted. We see one group of young men hanging on a corner and a few kids pedaling around on bikes, but otherwise it’s eerily quiet.

I’ve come on this ride-along because I want to see for myself what’s happening on the streets in the wake of the riots. Many of stories told by the media have sympathized either with the protesters or with the police, thus setting up an “us versus them” dynamic that feels reductive.

I don’t buy into this good guy/bad guy type of narrative. I don’t believe that the majority of the rioters were bad people or that the majority of police officers are bloodthirsty brutes. What I believe is that most of the rioters were good people engaging in bad behavior and that most of the police are good officers doing the best they can while working in deeply flawed system, a system that revolves around the “War on Drugs,” a system that targets poor, black neighborhoods.

We ride by the burned-out CVS and the boarded-up buildings. We slow down next to the huge mural that has been painted on the side of a row house in Sandtown-Winchester, close to the spot where Freddie Gray was first arrested. Two chimney-like structures divide the mural into three panels. In the center is a huge painting of Freddie Gray’s face; on the left Martin Luther King Jr. is depicted marching with a group of protesters, and on the right, Freddie Gray’s family also marches.

We all stare at the mural in silence for a moment. It reminds me of the statue that towers outside of Baltimore’s Penn Station, which features two bisecting body profiles, one male and one female. Baltimoreans either love or hate this polarizing piece of art. Whenever I look at it, I both understand it and question it, which is the same way I felt when the riots occurred.

The riots made no sense to me and yet, they made perfect sense. For years, I’ve heard stories from young, black men about their experiences with the cops — young men who have been pulled over without cause, who have been illegally searched, who have been spoken to disrespectfully. Some have been physically assaulted.

I have also been witness to some of these acts on a handful of ride-alongs that I went on several years ago with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). I went with the goal of writing about the fraying relationship between the BPD and the black community, but every time I tried to put pen to paper, the task felt impossibly complex.

On one of the ride-alongs, I watched a car full of young black men dressed in bright polo shirts and cocked ball caps get pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The driver of the vehicle handed over his license and explained that he was a college student, and that he and his friends were on their way to meet some friends.

The young man was polite and respectful, but it was easy to see that getting pulled over like this was not a new experience for him. There was a lilting impatience in his voice, the slightest tinge of angry exasperation that he attempted to keep tucked away. After the young man answered a few questions, the officers let him off without issuing any sort of traffic citation.

I remember watching him drive off and wondering what he would do with the remnants of that anger that he’d kept so neatly tucked beneath those polite answers. I have long wondered where that young man and all the others like him put their anger over this kind of degradation.

But I stopped wondering on the day of the riots; when I saw the images of young people lobbing bricks, stomping on cars and looting stores. There, I thought, the anger is right there.

The riot was a release. A giant exhale on a long held breath that has been waiting for the proverbial arc of justice to bend toward it.

“He shouldn’t be up there with Martin Luther King,” one of the officers finally says of the Freddie Gray mural, a note of disgust in his voice.

These officers, one Caucasian, one Hispanic, knew Freddie Gray long before the media ever uttered his name. At the station where we started the night, there were photographs of Gray hanging on the wall. In the photos, he was surrounded by a posse of baby-faced young men who mugged for the camera. In one picture, Gray held up his middle finger. There were handwritten numbers above the head of each of the young men and below a list of names that corresponded with the numbers.

When these officers look at this larger-than-life mural with Gray in the center, they see a drug dealer next to the greatest civil rights leader of all time and they can’t seem to make sense of that.

“Put that little girl up there. McKenzie. Not him,” the officer says.

He is referring to 3-year-old McKenzie Elliot, who was killed in a drive-by shooting last August. “Why weren’t there riots for her? That, I would understand.”

McKenzie Elliot and Freddie Gray — the former was presumably killed by drug dealers (although nobody has been arrested despite the fact that the crime occurred in front of multiple witnesses), the latter indisputably died in police custody….More

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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What role for the Black Church?

Historically the Black Church has been instrumental in advocating and advancing Civil Rights, and was central to organizing the protests and coalescing the voice of black people into actionable agendas.

MLK speaking before Ebenezer Baptist’s Congregation

The question today is, with the fundamental changes within the Black Church, is it possible anymore that the Church may regain it’s mantle as a central platform for the battle for Civil Rights?

Arguing against that is the reality that the Black Church in many places isn’t fully tied to it’s geographic community. As black folks have moved out of Urban areas to the burbs, the communities they have left behind, largely become “Commuter Communities”. Ergo, the expats drive to the old black community for services, whether it is a barbershop or beauty salon, or still maintain an allegiance to the old Church. They likely maintain friendships, or have relatives living in the old community. However, the issues with being black in America’s suburbs, and in the inner city are likely to be quite different.

Second is the fractionation of the community by the very Church which should be bringing it back together. Male participation in the Black Church has dropped to historic lows. Part of that has to do with personality cultism on the part of some male Preachers, part has to do with the belief the church really isn’t interested in the problems of black males, whether that perception is fair or not. An interesting analysis was published last year in the Atlanta Black Star – 6 Reasons Young Black People Are Leaving The Church.

Summed by Tony Carter who serves as the Lead Pastor of East Point Church in East Point, Georgia.The article suggest the rise in economic opportunities and social progress is making the church irrelevant. Secondly, in an ever-changing digital age, the church appears stagnant, old fashioned, and unattractive. Thirdly, today’s educated black man and woman have less use for faith in an enlightened age where reason and science answer most of their questions. Fourthly, there is a growing discontent among this generation of blacks with biblical passages that seemingly tolerate or advocate for such social ills as slavery and genocide. Fifthly, the church comes off as intolerant, judgmental, and simplistic when it comes to issues of sexual activity, sexual orientation, and living holy in a sexually free society. Lastly, the article suggested that this generation seeks authenticity whereas the black church today gives the impression that everyone has it all together. In other words, black millennials want to stop pretending.

I believe there is another reason. Far too many black churches have adopted a policy of exclusionism, requiring their parishioners to marry or date only people who believe as they do. That just isn’t a formula for long term success. -especially in a society where only about 42% of black women will ever marry.

Black Churches Led The Civil Rights Movement. Can They Do It Again In Baltimore?

…Many of today’s black pastors, some young activists argue, have moved away from the black church’s traditional role as a center for African-American mobilization. “Today, what we see is churches being appendages of the kind of status-quo body politic,” said Dayvon Love, 28, director of public policy at the Baltimore think tank and activist group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. “This has happened generally post-integration, post-civil rights. You have cadres of individual back people who get positioned in white-dominated institutions, and their presence is used as a way to deflect from structural change.”

It sounds like a radical critique, but senior clergy have similar concerns. “If you are a church that’s never in ‘good’ trouble with the powers, then you’re probably in bed with the powers,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who holds Martin Luther King Jr.’s former pulpit at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church,told NPR recently. “We’re doing precious little to actually dismantle the American prison-industrial complex, which is the new Jim Crow.”

To be sure, the protest tradition is alive and kicking in some Baltimore churches. Just last month, the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple, led a group that briefly shut down a major highway into the city during the morning rush hour to denounce plans for a new juvenile jail.

And the Rev. Ron Owens, a former pastor who organized the Freddie Gray funeral, bristles at the notion that local clergy have been co-opted by the powers that be.

The same group of pastors who led the funeral and the march through the riot were instrumental in getting the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a full-blown investigation of Baltimore police, Owens said. In the week after the riot, Owens said, the group requested meetings with Justice Department officials and held separate sessions with the department’s civil rights chief, Vanita Gupta, and with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

But Owens said it’s fair to say that such action should have come sooner, and that Baltimore clergy were previously silent on the issue of policing abuses -– even though some had experienced the problem personally. Owens himself recalled a police officer pulling him over and asking why he drove such a nice car. The Freddie Gray case has served as a wake-up call, Owens said.

“I’m glad that the alarm clock has sounded,” Owens said. “I’m the first to say that we were asleep.”…

Pastors who find the critique of co-optation too radical say another charge weighs more heavily: that they have become disengaged from the communities that surround them.

The Rev. Melvin Russell is assistant pastor at Baltimore’s New Beginnings Ministries. But his day job is as a lieutenant colonel in the Baltimore Police Department, where he leads the community partnership division. “When I was coming up,” Russell said, “the churches were community churches. We’re no longer community churches. We have devolved into commuter churches.”

And gaps between congregants and neighborhoods have political consequences, said Michael Leo Owens, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta who has studied urban black churches. “Many of the people who we could argue are most affected by some of the problems that we see with something like, say, the Baltimore Police Department are folks that are not in the pews of these churches,” he said. “So there’s this tremendous disconnect.”

Russell previously served as commander of Baltimore’s Eastern police district, where he pushed hard for residents and community leaders -– including clergy –- to engage directly with people involved in drugs and crime. His message to the church, Russell said, was that they had failed.

“You’ve can’t have a church in a community and at the same time have an open-air drug market right outside the church,” he said. “Something’s wrong with that picture as far as I’m concerned.”

The recent spate of violence has prompted actions that Russell should like: Bryant, the pastor who led last month’s highway shutdown, has announcedthat clergy and other volunteers will patrol hot spots of violence on weekend nights this summer. Bryant also promised midnight basketball tournaments and a Father’s Day march to highlight the violence.

Meanwhile, Hickman is turning Southern Baptist Church church into a center for community redevelopment, building senior housing and other amenities for his East Baltimore neighborhood.

“Politicians and bureaucrats have ignored the church as a community stakeholder and developer and looked for others to come in and save the city,” he said. “But I believe that the church is the ideal place to start with what should happen within the community.”…(more)

In the end analysis, I believe the answer is probably not. The big reason in my mind is that the Black Community in America has changed so radically (geographically, economically, and in vision). The second is that advancing Civil Rights in this day and age involves the exercise of Political power. The simple fact is, black politicians have dropped the ball largely in knee-jerk fighting flash fires, or focusing on the wrong problems. In my view the 42 black Congressmen sitting on the Hill are probably the most useless excuses for elected officials in the country. They have been utterly co-opted. I really find it hard to believe that 20% of the elected official in Congress can’t use the parliamentary tricks commonly used by Republicans to add riders to Bills which advance the cause. If there is some sort of lucid strategy there…

I certainly don’t see it.

If you go back and do some research on how the Civil Rights movement was strategized, and planned – you will  find a group of individuals who laid out a practical strategy and executed it ruthlessly. It took a lot more than organizers or politicians showing up on the front steps of 1st Baptist mouthing their slippery/slithery support.

In the end this is why I think the grass roots organizations rising up around “Black Lives Matter” are a far more effective tool.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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