Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore Burning Over Death of Freddie Gray

 photo BaltimoreRiots.png

Here we go again. On April 19, 2015, a group of policemen in Baltimore, Maryland, took custody of a man named Freddie Gray and after he was injured during the scuffle, they dragged him to an ambulance where later he died a mysterious death. Somehow he was killed inside an ambulance, completely severing his spinal cord. You cannot make up a horror story worse than the plight of African Americans in the hands of white cops these days.

From The Atlantic: The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray
According to the city, an officer made eye contact with Gray, and he took off running, so they pursued him. Though he'd had scrapes with the law before, there's no indication he was wanted at the time. And though he was found with a switchblade, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”

The police say Gray didn't resist arrest and that officers didn't use force, which seems to be mostly corroborated by video shot by bystanders. Gray seems to shout in pain, and his leg seems injured as officers drag him to a police van. (Someone off camera shouts, "His leg broke and y'all dragging him like that!") Gray also had asthma and requested his inhaler, but didn't get it. Yet it's not the leg or the asthma that killed him. Instead, it was a grave injury to his spinal cord. Gray's family said he was treated for three fractured vertebrae and a crushed voice box, the sorts of injuries that doctors say are usually caused by serious car accidents. The van made at least two stops before reaching the police station, but there's no footage to say what happened during the journey or at those stops.

It's a baffling conundrum. "None of the officers describe any use of force," Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said. "None of the officers describe using any force against Mr. Gray." And yet somehow Gray was fatally hurt while in police custody.

Baffling conundrum, indeed.

So what has happened since Gray's death? Protest marches have sometimes turned into riots, with looting and fires, and the Governor called in the National Guard. Hashtag Baltimore is turning into another Ferguson, Missouri. Or maybe EVERYWHERE is Ferguson these days, and the country has got to get this under control! The good news is that recently sworn-in Attorney General Loretta Lynch has already sent a team to Baltimore to investigate the circumstances. Which is fine, but at some point there has to be justice for black Americans who are scared for their lives and for their children.

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