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by Peter Moskos

August 28, 2015

“He shouldn’t be up there with Martin Luther King"

No, Freddie Gray should not be. What a disgrace to MLK, Jr. I hate to paraphrase The Trump, but just because you are killed or die in police custody does not make you a hero. But such is politics in Baltimore.
When these officers look at this larger-than-life mural with Gray in the center, they see a drug dealer next to the greatest civil rights leader of all time and they can’t seem to make sense of that.

“Put that little girl up there. McKenzie. Not him,” the officer says.

He is referring to 3-year-old McKenzie Elliot, who was killed in a drive-by shooting last August. “Why weren’t there riots for her? That, I would understand.”
This comes from a piece in Salon by Danielle Ariano, who went on a ride-along in Baltimore. It's well worth reading the whole thing.


Adam said...

That's a great article (even though they used a photo of a Baltimore *county* patrol car). I personally know the "smiling" officer who was vilified on Twitter. More complete videos show that he stays with the arrestee and pours water on his face to wash off the pepper spray. It's unfortunate how quickly bullshit spreads on social media.

My favorite part of the article is probably this quote, which I think makes a point that is lost on too many people:

“The thing that drives me crazy is the automatic assumption that we wanted to kill Freddie Gray,” he says as we drive around the parking lot of Mondawmin Mall. “That we murdered him. That we murdered Michael Brown. That we murdered Eric Garner. A lot of people like to throw this word, ‘murder,’ out to show intent but it’s so far from the truth. Michael Brown didn’t have his hands up, that’s been disproven.”

I also appreciate the author's point that the word "murder" does apply to some police shootings (e.g., Walter Scott). But it doesn't apply to most of them. Not even most of the bad ones.

Moskos said...

(I'm surprised they haven't corrected that picture of the wrong car.)

David Woycechowsky said...

Police keep saying that they (and the prosecutors) have evidence that Freddie tried to hurt himself on previous occasions (as you said you had heard that he had). Will be interesting to see if that was contemporaneously documented, or whether it is just personal recollections and hearsay.

Even if the Gray case does fall apart, it looks like the silver lining will be that it got everyone to take a second look at the Cagle case. Apparently, he started with the Baltimore city police around 2001 and is now up on serious charges for a groin shooting he did in the line of duty.

Unknown said...

Certainly an interesting article but I almost stopped reading after the writer in the first paragraph seemed to feel she could capture the complexity of the issue of drug crimes, their varied impacts on the community, the perpetrators, and society generally with the phrase "targets black communities". It's a shorthand tossed off as if something this complicated can be boiled down to something so utterly oversimplified and indeed asinine. I worked for 36 years in the Philadelphia Probation Department, almost all of that time with people there for drug offenses of various kinds or offenses related to drug use and/or sales and it drives me crazy to almost always see this issue discussed (by people on both "sides" of the debate) in such simplistic and uninformed ways

Adam said...

David: actually, the other officers put Cagle in shortly after the shooting incident. The investigation was well underway in January, and the decision to charge Cagle was only delayed because of all the Freddie Gray madness.

David Woycechowsky said...

Maybe, maybe not.