According to the New York Times, “In a city rocked by unrest this week, and now under curfew and patrolled by National Guard troops, Ms. Mosby’s announcement on the steps of the War Memorial downtown drew cheers from the assembled crowd while a nearby cordon of officers in riot gear looked on stonily. As word spread, people in parts of the city took to the streets in spontaneous celebration.”
I first found out the news as I did my customary scroll down my Facebook timeline on Friday morning: Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City’s State Attorney and the youngest top prosecutor in the nation had decided that the six police officers above were responsible for the death of Freddie Gray, a twenty-five year old African-American man who due to a crushed voicebox and grave spinal cord injury he incurred in police custody had died. Mosby charged six police officers with “a range of crimes including murder and manslaughter in the arrest and fatal injury of Freddie Gray”. My heart rejoiced, as did my friends and family for we have grown to accustomed to video evidence of policy brutality and even murder not being enough to convict law enforcement in cases where unarmed Black people are injured or killed. This is a welcomed change of pace.
I admire Ms. Mosby’s courage and dedication to ensuring that the law works the same for everyone, regardless of the color of one’s skin, the neighborhood in which one lives, or even the clothing which one dons. Per the article, “Ms. Mosby faulted the police conduct at every turn. The officers who arrested him “failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed,” she said, describing the arrest as illegal. Officers accused him of possession of a switchblade, but Ms. Mosby said, “The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law”. This factual account demonstrates how quickly police officers create narratives that defend their unjust conduct. Gray was completely innocent. And yet some believe that he deserved to die as he had a criminal record. So now drug possession and theft garner the death penalty in this country?
Many people were surprised that half of the officers were black-I wasn’t. This surprise and accusation that the murders are not about color and that Blacks are “race-baiting” (*ahem* Fox News) only serves to demonstrate that many people do not understand institutional racism and white supremacy. When we call out the racist behavior and attitudes of the police, we are not simply calling out individual white police officers. We are calling out the institution of policing that is grounded in institutionalized racism. An institution that believes that it is fine to kill Blacks for a broken tail light. An institution that believes that it is fine to kill Blacks for making eye contact with an officer and running (if you have ever experienced the police while black, you would understand why this is an understandable impulse). An institution that believes that it is fine to kill Blacks for simply existing.
Click here to view the full New York Times article.