A year ago – April 12, 2015, to be exact, Freddy Gray, a career criminal and small-potatoes drug dealer, was arrested. He became physically damaged while in police custody and died a week later.
The fallout from Freddy Gray’s arrest/death included massive rioting, looting and arson in the city, along with countless demonstrations of unbridled hatred for the police force, based on claims of racial injustice. (In this regard, it should be noted, is more than half of Black/Latino/Asian ancestry).
Six Baltimore police officers – three White, three Black – have been charged in Freddy Gray’s death. One has resulted in a mistrial. The other five trials have not yet started.
It is believed by many that the charges against these police officers, brought by an inexperienced prosecutor who played to the street and played to the media, far outweigh anything that could be proven in a court of law.
That said, we do not know for sure what happened to Freddy Gray or whether there is police responsibility. We may never know.
But here are a few things we do know:
-The crime rate in Baltimore, especially violent crimes, has skyrocketed. It is largely assumed that this is due, in large part, to police reticence in aggressively addressing such crime – presumably out of fear that one wrong move, no matter how minor, could put their careers, even their lives, in jeopardy;
-Morale in the police department is extremely low – as exemplified by how hard it is to recruit new officers: According to Kevin Rector’s article in the Baltimore Sun, since the FreddyGray incident, 271 police officers have left the department, and only 86 have been hired to replace them.
-Given that the full police force numbers about 2,300, this means that, during a significant spike in violent crime, there are almost 10% fewer police to keep order….and the ones who remain are demoralized and inhibited from aggressively working at their jobs.
That is the condition of of Baltimore at this moment.
A few other components to Baltimore’s current situatoin:
-The city made a settlement with Freddy Gray’s family for $6.4 million dollars – before any trial came to fruition, and before there was any clear indication the police did a thing wrong
-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake apparently told the police to stand down while the rioting/looting/arson took place?
-Mayor Rawlings-Blake also said, about the people engaging in this destruction that:
“It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”
Do you think this kind of “leadership” might have something to do with Baltimore’s current situation?