One month ago Freddie Gray died from severe spinal injuries inflicted by his kidnappers. They are: Caesar Goodson, Brian Rice, William Porter, Alicia White, Edward Nero, and Garrett Miller.
There is no justification for what happened to Gray. But undoubtedly, the thousands of assaults, robberies, and homicides committed by BPD members throughout the years helped to lay the foundation.
The BPD, if it’s not already clear, is the Baltimore Police Department.
In the mid-2000s, one in three arrests made by BPD members were thrown out for having “insufficient evidence.” Of those remaining arrests, many were likely related to victimless actions, meaning there was no crime committed.
But the caging of a fellow human is just business as usual when your incentive isn’t to serve and protect, but rather to violate rights. This is especially true when others are forced to pay for your mistakes.
The investigative piece “Undue Force,” published last September in The Baltimore Sun, is chock full of examples of those harmed by BPD members. The article disclosed that in the four previous years, Baltimore taxpayers coughed up almost $6 million to settle lawsuits filed against BPD members. This number would have been much greater were it not for local legalese that imposed a $200,000 cap per claim.
On April 12, BPD members stalked Gray near the Gilmor Homes housing project. Gray, aware that BPD members had a propensity to initiate violence, began to run. He understandably sought to remove himself from a threatening situation. Within moments his fears were confirmed: the BPD members pounced.
Gray was shackled and placed into a transport van. The driver purposefully drove erratically, causing what ultimately became life-ending injuries to Gray. Most notably, his spine was almost completely severed.
Gray had caused no victim. He was the victim.
Robert F. Cherry, who runs interference for BPD members, had the audacity to claim that his comrades “are not brutal.”
This incident wasn’t the first time the “service” of purposefully erratic van rides was used on those “served” by the BPD. In fact, erratic driving of shackled occupants had been used so often, a BPD policy released six days before the kidnapping of Gray stipulated that occupants in vans be seatbelted.
That policy was ignored by Gray’s killers.
Clearly the BPD gang members responsible had no fear of being held accountable for their actions. They probably thought they’d they’d teach Gray “a lesson” and that few people – certainly no one outside of Baltimore – would hear of their actions.
The gang members were so used to getting away with everything, so used to being part of a culture where badges seemingly grant extra rights, that they murdered Gray.
When Gray ended up dead, his killers tried to distract from the severity of their actions, stating that Gray was carrying an “illegal” knife. (The knife Gray carried was not among those prohibited, but even if it were, so what?)
If you get hung up on the knife, and whether it is or is not “legal,” you grant authority to the very criminals involved in the death of Gray. If you buy into the false premise that certain people possess the right to decide which objects you can own, you impart to them the perceived legitimacy that costumed criminals so desperately need.
The Obvious Verdict
Gray caused no victim. He damaged no person or property. Hell, even the head of the BPD, Anthony Batts, admitted during a May 6 interview with CNN’s Evan Perez that “We are part of the problem.”
Even the leader of the BPD recognizes that his gang’s perceived legitimacy is the root of the problem.
Like all police outfits, BPD’s entire operation is fueled by force or threat of force. Despite the attention Gray’s murder has garnered, the violence will continue until the charade of costumed gangs is no longer supported. Reforms, lawsuits, new policies or any other inside-their-system “fix” are not enough.
If you want to achieve justice for Gray and for so many who’ve met similar fates, do everything within your power to remove the perceived legitimacy of criminal gangs. Don’t call them. Don’t give them your money. Don’t use their language, like “officer” or “authorities.” Turn instead to market-based alternatives like the Cop Block Network, Peacekeeper and Threat Management Center business models.