Tag Archives: Freddie Gray

Is race still a part of the Freddie Gray story?

Allow me this brief observation about the case involving the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and the riots that have ensued since that tragedy.

Baltimore authorities have charged six Baltimore police officers with homicide in Gray’s death, which occurred when he suffered a severed spine while in police custody. Gray was black and his death touched off another storm of protests by African-Americans about the treatment they receive from the police.

Then the charges came forward.

It’s fair to point out something about the events that have developed since Gray’s death.

Three of the six officers charged with a felony are African-American; the other three are Anglo. The prosecutor is African-American.

This case should turn, as President Obama noted, on whether “justice” will be delivered. By my way of looking at the arrests of the officers and the charges they face, the officers’ racial composition suggests that race doesn’t have quite the sting in this case that it once did.

Yes, let’s allow justice to be done. Let’s also dial back the race-baiting.

Search for justice takes surprise turn in Baltimore

The case of Freddie Gray’s death while in Baltimore police custody has taken a startling turn.

Six police officers are charged with homicide in Gray’s death from a severed spine while he was being detained.


Then came an expected reaction.

The African-American community is elated that the officers are being charged. Others, namely the police union in Baltimore, are calling for the county prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, to recuse herself. The union wants Mosby to select a special prosecutor. Why? Is she incapable of prosecuting the police officers fairly? Is it fair to wonder whether the fact that Mosby is African-American — as was Gray — has something to do with the union’s demand that she recuse herself?

Well, I’m wondering it out loud.

Mosby’s findings suggest that Gray was denied medical attention after he cried out for it.

I don’t want to applaud these charges. Frankly, the turn of events means this case is going to keep tempers roiling in Baltimore for an undetermined length of time. The media will find every way possible to report on every detail of the case. Let us also understand that the officers deserve the presumption of innocence; the burden will fall on the state to prove their guilt.

My hope, as an American who lives far from the seething anger in Baltimore, is that this case can proceed with all deliberate speed and thoroughness.

I will place my trust that Marilyn Mosby is up to the task that awaits her.


'Thugs' is not a racist term

Let’s try to dispel some chatter out there about a term that’s been tossed around to describe the individuals who’ve destroyed businesses, burned buildings, injured police officers and created a whole lot of mayhem in a great American city.

They’ve been called “thugs.” Some folks now are bristling at the term because they contend it carries a racist connotation.


The violent outburst in Baltimore came after an African-American man, Freddie Gray, died while in police custody of a severed spine.

How did some individuals react to that death? By attacking individuals who had nothing to do with it.

Does that sound like thuggery to you? It does to me.

Oh, and who has used the term “thugs” to describe what’s gone on? President Barack Obama has called the perps “thugs.” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said it, too. What do these folks have in common? You know what it is: They’re both African-American. Other civic leaders have chimed in with the term as well. Many of them have been black.

Granted, the mayor hasn’t done a good job of taking control of the situation, but that’s another story.

A single word need not become the focus of the discussion that should be occurring with regard to the violence that has exploded in Baltimore. It diverts attention away from the bigger problem, which — as I see it — relates to the hideous behavior of some individuals who have hogged all the attention from those in Baltimore who’ve sought to maintain order and protest in a civil manner.

Of course, there’s the issue of police relations in the African-American community, which also must be discussed. That discussion cannot occur, however, when thugs are tearing up the city.

Take a bow, Toya Graham

One of the many curious aspects of social media is that it produces stars literally in an instant.

Someone snaps a picture or shoots a video on a cell phone, posts it on Twitter or Facebook, and the subject of the image becomes a star.

The latest national social media star is a young mother of a teenager who she spotted doing something quite wrong.

Toya Graham saw her son throwing objects at Baltimore police officers and then proceeded to smack her son upside his head. Repeatedly. She chased him, scolding him with some pretty rough language.


She’s received lots of praise on social media from those who believe she should speak for a lot of angry parents.

I happen to be one of her admirers.

Toya Graham called herself a “no-tolerant mother.” She added, “Everybody that knows me knows I don’t play that.” She’s a single mother of six. She was captured on video reacting the way — I believe — most self-respecting parents would react if they saw their child committing a destructive act.

Graham’s son was taking part in a disturbance that erupted in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man who died in police custody of a severed spine. The cops have yet to explain how that happened. They’d better step up — and soon — to account for this terrible incident.

None of that, though, justifies the mayhem that exploded in Baltimore. I am struck by what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. might say to all of this. He would be horrified. As someone noted, also on social media, Dr. King “changed the world without ever lighting a fire.”

Today, though, a single mom stands tall as a symbol for parents who need to get angry — as she did — when she witnessed one of her children doing something shameful.


Media get undeserved 'blame' in Baltimore

Blame the media for covering it.

That’s a line being tossed out by the president of the Baltimore City Council in response to the rioting that has erupted in the city in the wake of the Freddie Gray death and funeral.

Gray died of a severed spine while he was being arrested by police. Rioters exploded in a violence reaction to the death of another African-American man at the hands of police.


CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked a pertinent question: What are the media supposed to do when police cars are burned, when police officers are injured and when people’s property is destroyed by rioters?

The media are not to blame for the violence in Baltimore. The blame rests squarely — and exclusively — on the shoulders of the thugs who fomented the rioting and who have taken zero responsibility to behave as responsible citizens.

News, by definition, are those events that run counter to what’s considered normal. By my way of thinking, torching buildings and injuring innocent people in response to a man’s death qualifies as “news.”

The media must cover these events.

Do not blame media outlets for doing their job.

Baltimore becomes new face of urban insanity

Now it’s Baltimore’s turn in infamy’s spotlight.

A young man, Freddie Gray, died in police custody after suffering a severed spine. He was African-American.

Two weeks later, while the young man was saying good bye to him at his funeral, Baltimore erupted.

Thugs tore into innocent bystanders. Police were assaulted, some of them were injured seriously. Property has been damaged and destroyed.


This is how one responds to tragedy? This is how you seek to make political allies to whatever cause you seek to promote?

The nation is witnessing a shameful act of willful destruction.

The violence and destruction defies my understanding of what goes through people’s minds at times like this.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said this: “Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for, tearing down businesses, tearing down or destroying property. It’s idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you’re going to make life better for anybody.”

How, then, do you deal with idiocy?

Now it's Freddie Gray

The roster of African-American men whose death involving police activity keeps growing.

When does it stop? How do communities learn to deal with these crises? Have we reached a tipping point?

The latest man to die in police custody is a young fellow, Freddie Gray, whose spine was snapped while he was being held by Baltimore police.


And the outrage has begun. As it should.

How does someone get their spine broken by police? What in the world is happening when these officers arrest someone?

* Eric Garner was choked to death by a Staten Island police officer. A grand jury decided to no-bill the officer.

* Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson, Mo., officer. A grand jury there decided against an indictment.

* Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood security officer, who then was acquitted of murder in a Sanford, Fla., trial.

* Walter Scott was shot to death in the back as he fled from a North Charleston, S.C., police officer, who’s now been charged with murder.

I am acutely aware that there are circumstances associated with some of these deaths, such as with Michael Brown’s conduct.

Still, we can add Freddie Gray to the list of individuals who’ve died because of police activity. And once again, parents, siblings and spouses of African-American men are going to express alarm that more men just like those who have died already will become victims of similar actions by police officers in their communities.

We’ve heard already about the need for a “national conversation” about police relations with African-American communities across the country.

Let’s keep having that conversation. Shall we?