Vote, they told us. We did that.
Stop rioting, they told us. We did that, too.
Let the justice system do its job, they told us. We even did that.
Be patient, they told us. We’ve been doing that for more than a century.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Still, all charges were dropped against the officers in the Freddie Gray case.
On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray was walking in his Baltimore neighborhood, but when he saw police officers, he started running. The police chased and tackled him to the ground. They found a knife, blade folded into the handle, clipped to the inside of Gray’s front pocket and arrested him.
But 40 minutes later, when the van got to the police station, Gray was unresponsive and unconscious. After being taken to the hospital, doctors found he had a broken neck, a crushed voice box and a severed spine.
So what happened between his arrest at 8:43 a.m. and being seen at the hospital at 9:43 a.m.?
The likely answer is a Rough Ride, a form of retaliation against a suspect officers deem too loud or argumentative. They handcuff and/or shackle the suspect and put him or her in the back of a police van. Then the driver speeds on bumpy roads, makes sharp turns, comes to sudden stops – all to throw the bound suspect around in the unpadded metal van.
Cellphone video shows the driver stopping the van and other officers pulling Gray from the vehicle to put flex cuffs on his wrists and leg shackles on his ankles. Then they put him back in the van.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, adding it is “believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred when Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seat belt while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon.”
Baltimore citizens held protests about Gray’s death, but that didn’t really get any media coverage. Then there was rioting.
That got national media attention. They got things rolling. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced six officers were being charged with Gray’s death.
But one officer’s trial ended in a mistrial. Two others were acquitted. The charges were dropped against all the officers last week.
Gray did not break his neck, crush his vocal box and sever his own spine.
But no one was responsible for his death?
Mosby, in the press conference announcing the dropped charges, was furious. She said police officers who were witnesses to the case were appointed to the investigative team. Lead detectives, she said, started a counter-investigation to disprove the state’s case.
It’s obvious the investigation was rigged; the bigger problem is the whole system seems to be rigged against us. There just is no way for us to win.
So, what would you have us do now?
Never mind, I think it’s time we decide for ourselves.
Karen E. Quinones Miller is a journalist, historian and community activist.