Battleground Baltimore: The Path To Police Accountability

Baltimore, MD – The battle to keep Black, brown, and other marginalized people safe from police violence is like a fire that has burned for as long as this country has existed. Hot spots flare up when this country’s hatred for Black and Brown people becomes more apparent, making the heat more intense and the pain more unbearable. It feels like we are in one of those moments where the fire is burning especially strong right now. 

This week, a jury found former officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. In May of last year, Chauvin was caught on tape kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd begged for his life. We reached out to State Sen. Jill Carter and Del. Gabriel Acevero, two Maryland lawmakers who were instrumental in getting comprehensive policing legislation passed here in Maryland just a few weeks ago.

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Freddie Gray, Five Years Later

On April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr. was arrested in the Gilmor Homes housing development in West Baltimore by three officers on bike patrol. Less than an hour later, a medic was called to the Western District police station, where Gray, 25, was unconscious and not breathing. On April 19, Gray died from complications due to a cervical spine injury.

Baltimore resident Kevin Moore captured some of Gray’s arrest on video that was widely shared. The video showed Gray screaming as he was restrained on his belly by a heavyset bike officer, Garrett Miller, and then loaded into a police transport van, his legs dragging. “I hear the screams every night,” Moore later said. “‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I need help, I need medical attention.’ This is the shit that play in my mind over and over again.”

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Freddie Gray Death: Remaining Charges Dropped Against Police Officers

By Baynard Woods for The Guardian – Baltimore prosecutors have dropped all remaining charges against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray. The surprise announcement Wednesday comes after four trials that ended withno conviction, and means there will likely be no criminal accountability over Gray’s death. Gray, a 25-year-old African American man, sustained fatal injuries in the back of a police van in April 2015. Video of Gray’s arrest that showed officers dragging a screaming Gray on the ground drew international outrage.

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Judge Hands Down Another Acquittal For Officer In Freddie Gray Case

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer charged in the death ofFreddie Gray, was on Monday acquitted on all counts. It marks the fourth time prosecutors have failed to secure a conviction in the case, theBaltimore Sun notes, and in turn “is likely to renew calls for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby to drop the remaining charges[…] including from the union that represents the city’s rank-and-file officers.”

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Baltimore Officers Sue Prosecutor Over Freddie Gray Case

By Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector for The Baltimore Sun – Two officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are suing Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for defamation and invasion of privacy. Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter, who are facing charges of involuntary manslaughter in the 25-year-old’s death last April, filed the lawsuit against Mosby, Baltimore sheriff’s office Maj. Sam Cogen and the state of Maryland on May 2, according to Baltimore Circuit Court records made public Wednesday.

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Reaction To Nero Acquittal On All Charges In Freddie Gray Case

By Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew – There was disappointment from some quarters – but not much surprise – that Edward Nero, the second Baltimore police officer to stand trial in connection with the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, was found not guilty today on all charges. During a five-day bench trial before Circuit Court Judge Barry G. Williams, prosecutors presented evidence on four misdemeanor charges, including second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

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Newsletter: Ending The Political Charade

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. This week, on Earth Day, representatives from 130 countries gathered at the United Nations in New York City to sign the climate treaty agreed upon in Paris last December. As they smiled for the camera and promised to do their best to hold the temperature down, climate activists posted an open letter stating that it is too late, the climate emergency is already here. Leading up to the signing of the Paris Treaty this week were actions to stop the advance of fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Many events to mark the one year anniversary are taking place this week and the next in Baltimore to remember the uprising. Erica Chenoweth, the author of “How Civil Resistance Works”, writes that elections both locally and globally are being shaped by nonviolent resistance. In the US, no matter who is elected president in the November election, it will be critical for those who have been activated to continue to organize and visibly protest.

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Baltimore Police Condemned On Freddie Gray Anniversary

By John Zangas and Anne Meador for DC Media Group. Families of unarmed Blacks who were slain by police rallied in West Baltimore one year after Freddie Gray died of injuries sustained in police custody. Six families joined protesters to tell stories about family members who had also been killed by police. They marched to the site where Gray had been apprehended and dragged into the police van, paused for a moment of silence and then proceeded four blocks past the local police precinct. “This is 21st-century lynching at its best,” said Reverend C.D. Witherspoon. “And it goes by the name police brutality.”

People gathered in front of the CVS at the corner of West North and Pennsylvania Avenue. The store became infamous when rioters smashed the windows, looted and set fire to it a year ago. Today, large signs saying “Now Open” are displayed on the building.

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Activist ‘Squatters’ Take Over Home Near Gray’s Arrest A Year Later

By Catherine Rentz for The Baltimore Sun – A coalition of activists has claimed a vacant red brick rowhouse at the site of Freddie Gray’s arrest, though the city has marked the home for demolition and says it’s not the activists’ to use. The self-described squatters say they want to use what they call the “Tubman House” — named after the underground railroad organizer Harriet Tubman — as a hub to organize food gardens and giveaways, host community cookouts and orchestrate art and occupational training courses, mainly for residents in and around neighboring Gilmor Homes.

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Newsletter: Justice Takes A Lifetime

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The #BlackLivesMatter movement continues to grow its power and have notable victories, but 600 hundred years of racial oppression, older than the nation itself, will not be rooted out quickly. The movement had a series of electoral and other victories this week. These victories for #BLM and their supporters are notable but problems still persist and the movement must continue to grow and get stronger. There are no quick fixes to a country that is crippled by its history of racism. We must all recognize that the work we are doing for racial, economic and environmental justice requires us to be persistent and uncompromising. achieve the transformational justice we seek will last our lifetimes – a marathon and not a sprint.

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Survey: Freddie Gray’s Neighborhood Rife With Police Brutality

By Colin Daileda. Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester consumed the news cycle for a brief period in April 2015, when Freddie Gray, a black resident of the area, died in police custody.

His death put a spotlight on the police department’s relationship with the black residents of Baltimore, and the results of a survey released on March 8 show why the tension therein was bound to boil over.

According to a survey conducted by Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development and the No Boundaries Coalition, which describes itself as a resident-led advocacy group based in west Baltimore, 453 out of 1,500 survey respondents in Sandtown-Winchester had experienced or witnessed “police misconduct.”

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Hung Jury For Officer On Trial In Death Of Freddie Gray

By Julia Craven for The Huffington Post – The jury could not reach a verdict in the case of Officer William Porter, the Baltimore cop charged in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Porter, 26, is one of six officers who will stand trial in connection to the death of Gray, a black man who died after a “rough ride” in police custody in April. Porter was charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Freddie Gray Died From Same Racial Injustice Of Court System

By Julia Craven in The Huffington Post – Lawyers for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the April death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray recently attempted a similar maneuver. In May, they called for their clients’ trials to be shifted outside the city, citing fears that national media coverage of Gray’s death and the subsequent protests had tainted the jury pool.

Last week, a judge ruled that the criminal trials will remain in the city for now and that the officers will be tried separately. There’s still a chance that the trials could be moved if the judge concludes during juror selection that a unbiased jury can’t be seated.

But no matter where the trials take place, residents from West Baltimore — where Gray lived — aren’t likely to sit on the jury.

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Baltimore To Pay Freddie Gray’s Family $6.4 Million

By Kenrya Rankin Naasel in Color Lines – The criminal trial for the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray isn’t set to start until October, but this morning, the city of Baltimore agreed to pay his family $6.4 million in restitution. The Baltimore Sun reports that the city’s spending panel, the Board of Estimates, is expected to approve the settlement at a meeting tomorrow. Gray’s family had not yet filed a civil suit against the city.

Gray, 25, died in police custody on April 19, 2015, from spinal injuries inflicted during what Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby deemed an illegal arrest. As part of the settlement, the city accepts full civil liability for Gray’s arrest and death, but does not acknowledge police misconduct.

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Baltimore Protester Arrested At Freddie Gray Court Hearing

By Nicky Woolf for the Guardian – At the first pre-trial hearing in the Freddie Gray murder trial. Judge Barry Glenn Williams denied a motion to dismiss the charges and ruled that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby does not have to recuse herself from the case. These were two of the three demands of the protesters seeking justice for Freddie Gray. The third demand is the critical issue of whether there will be a change of venue. That issue will not be heard until September 10th. There were dozens of protesters outside the courthouse who later marched through the streets of downtown Baltimore.

The protests briefly shut down intersections and all was going smoothly until the police arrested one person who was trying to lead the group back to the courthouse.

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