One year and 23 days ago, Baltimore’s Chief Deputy Prosecutor and Dorchester, Mass. native Marilyn J. Mosby took to the stage and boldly promised justice on behalf of a black man in police custody.
Freddie Gray died in April 2015 from spinal injuries sustained during an arrest. Mosby announced charges against the six officers involved, 28 counts ranging from second-degree murder to false imprisonment.
Today, Edward M. Nero, the first of five officers, was acquitted of all charges. This follows a previous trial in December, against Officer William Porter, which ended in a mistrial. Five other officers now await trial.
Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett G. Price III joined Margery Eagan and Jim Braude on Boston Public Radio for their weekly segment, All Revved Up.
“This case started out with an injustice,” Price said. “We don’t even know why he was arrested in the first place.”
On April 12, 2015, Four officers on bicycles, including Nero, attempted to stop Gray, who ran and was caught and arrested a few blocks away. The officers requested a van to take Gray away, placing him in leg irons in the back chamber of the van. According to the police report, Gray requested an inhaler and medical attention during the ride. Gray was in medical distress and fell unconscious before being transported to a medical center, where he died the following week.
“The very beginning of this narrative was unjust in the first place,” Price said. “I don’t think you can receive justice from that situation… this is just insane because the entire justice system is based on trust, and you have just misused and misappropriated trust.”
Gray’s death followed a series of similar incidents in 2014: The police custody death of Eric Garner, the police shooting of Tamir Rice, and the death of 18 year-old Michael Brown, shot by police in the street. “There is a sort of continuous narrative about cops getting off,” Monroe said. “Not only do I feel for the family, but the entire community.”
A new bill in Louisiana, known as the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill, will designate law enforcement as a protected class. Attacking a police officer would be considered a hate crime, according to the language of the bill, which passed the state’s two legislative bodies with near unanimous approval and is headed for the Governor’s desk to sign.
“What we really need to begin to look at is a form of restorative justice, where it’s reciprocal really on both ends here,” Monroe said. “I think that until we hold each other accountable, nobody is safe.”
To hear All Revved Up, click the audio link above. Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a professor of music at Northeastern University, and the author of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture. Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Huffington Post and Bay Windows.