Former Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety Andrea Cabral joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan for Open Mic. She gave us her take on the unfolding situation in Baltimore, where riots have engulfed the city after a young African American man named Freddie Gray died in police custody.
Here are some selections from her interview:
On the rioting in Baltimore:
"Riots are futile in the end, because the conversation becomes about the criminality of the people on the street...You spend so much time quelling the riot and rebuilding from the damage of the riot that you completely ignore the underlying, consistent problem and have to deal with it."
On the official account of what happened to Freddie Gray:
"Quite frankly, the 'he wasn't wearing a seatbelt' thing is absolute nonsense. He was running from the police moments before, and one can safely assume—even not being a doctor—that his spine was intact while he was running. It's what happened after he was taken into custody or while he was on the ground."
On the disconnect between African Americans and some police departments:
"No one is suggesting that every cop who works in every department is harassing or oppressing or using excessive force with members of the black community. But we do know it is a widespread enough problem, especially with the advent of cameras, that these issues are happening more and more...It is up to political leaders to take a look at this, to take a look at the systems that protect cops that have histories, violent histories. There are civil service rules, there are union protections, all of that feeds into the political. Because come election time, you don't want an entire police department standing there saying that they're not with you and that they're with your opponent."
On the cost of leaving issues with the police unresolved:
"The price of ignoring this, it would be bad enough of it was just the price in lives, which we clearly know that it is. But the price societally, the price in terms of how we run our society, and the policies we use to guide us to run a peaceful society, are completely at peril in this."
To hear more from Andrea Cabral, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.