After enormous pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on July 27 dropped the indictments against the remaining three of six police officers who had been charged with the murder of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody. The young African American had been arrested after “making eye contact with the police.”
The three other police had earlier been acquitted, not by a jury but by Circuit Judge Barry Williams, who claimed that the prosecuting attorneys had failed to present significant prosecutorial evidence of any misconduct.
Mosby faced vociferous criticism from the police for having filed multiple criminal charges against the officers after the medical examiner determined that Gray’s death was a homicide. She had also received death threats before her decision to drop the charges and has now hired bodyguards. This and unrelenting pressure from the FOP are seen as factors in her decision to rescind the charges against the police.
Mosby’s decision to halt the prosecutions was called “a miscarriage of justice” by the Rev. Courtly “CD” Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a leader of the People’s Power Assembly. “It deprived the people of Baltimore of the one opportunity to receive police accountability,” said Witherspoon, who has been a leading community activist protesting police violence and brutality.
Witherspoon also criticized the State of the City Address by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in which she “did not appear as dedicated to ending police brutality as she was in ending ‘Black on Black’ crime.” This phrase has been used to divert from the real problems of the Black community, which faces discrimination, poverty, poor housing and massive unemployment, as well as police crimes.
In a joint statement, Andre Powell, who is running for mayor, and Sharon Black, who is running for City Council president, said, “No matter what the decision, the People’s Power Assembly and Workers World Party will continue to fight against police brutality and murder, along with the Baltimore SCLC and Black Lives Matter — in Baltimore and everywhere else in this country where racism rears its ugly head. Along with the police murders of Freddie Gray, Anthony Anderson and other victims, the struggle for justice continues.” Powell and Black are members of Workers World Party. They are running as independents.
Freddie Gray’s death is part and parcel of the genocidal actions of police throughout the U.S. and is not an anomaly. Time after time, the police are either not indicted or if indicted, they are acquitted of both murder and brutality — even when those heinous acts are recorded by conscientious witnesses and/or police videos. No small part is played by so-called police “unions” that not only put tremendous pressure on government officials but also have great power and influence in the state apparatus of the capitalist state to act with impunity.
Just in recent years, Baltimore has had to pay out millions of dollars to family members for either deaths or acts of brutality by the police against African Americans. The settlement over Freddie Gray’s death alone cost $6.4 million. These settlements are an attempt to use taxpayers’ money to make the problems caused by oppression “go away.”
However, as the popular saying goes, “No justice, no peace.” Neither the state apparatus nor the police will stop the Black Lives Matter movement, nor the revolutionary socialist struggle to end the oppressive capitalist system.