Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Without Fear or Favor

On Friday, May 1, Marilyn J. Mosby, the States Attorney for Baltimore City, announced she had found probable cause to prosecute six Baltimore police officers for the death of Freddie Gray.  Gray died while in police custody on April 12.

Her act was electric, turning angry protests and riots into a celebration.  For the African American community, finally, the state had acted to enforce the law even against the police, making it clear that no one can be treated as if they were less than human.   Mosby acted in 18 days, about one-fourth the time Missouri officials consumed before making their determination about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

In her clear statement, she described the “comprehensive, thorough and independent” investigation that had been undertaken by investors of the Police Integrity Unit, as well as by the state medical examiner and the Baltimore Police themselves.

Gray, she concluded, had been arrested illegally, having committed no crime.  He died in police custody from injuries suffered while under arrest.  He was handcuffed and shackled and, against Baltimore police regulations, placed in a van with no seatbelts, and no way to protect himself when thrown about.  The van stopped repeatedly, with Gray asking for medical assistance.  His request ignored, he was left shackled without a seatbelt.  This was probably an instance of what is known as a “rough ride,” which police use to purposefully punish someone.

Mosby’s action was a courageous one. She is 35, and took her office only a few months ago.  The head of the Police Union has already accused her of a “rush to judgment” and called for her to step aside for a special prosecutor.   (Although a finding of probable cause only begins the process; all of these defendants can received their day in court before judgment is rendered).

Given the facts, Mosby stood up.  She is not an antagonist of the police.  She comes from a long line of police officials.  Her father, mother, grandfather and many aunts and uncles were all police officers.  In her announcement of the charges, she stated, “these accusations of these six officers are not an indictment of the entire force.”   “…[T] he actions of these officers will not and should not, in any way, damage the important working relationships between police and prosecutors as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in Baltimore. Thank you for your courage, committee and sacrifice for the betterment of the community.”

Throughout the Baltimore upheaval, she consistently praised the courage of those demonstrating peacefully for justice and the dedication and courage of the police for protecting the city “from those who want to destroy it.”

Mosby was criticized for speaking to the demonstrators in her statement: “”To the people of Baltimore and demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘No Justice, No peace,’” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”  But a prosecutor speaking out to calm her city surely is doing the right thing.  She was criticized for telling Freddie Gray’s family that “no one is above the law.”  But surely that is a principle that every prosecutor is sworn to uphold.

She will be under intense pressure from police and much of the public.  The habit of deference to the police, the willingness to condone behavior so long as the “blue line” of police stays unified, exists in Baltimore as well as across the nation.

Baltimore’s Mayor as well as U.S. Representatives. Donna Edwards and Elijah Cummings defended her integrity and the process.  She will need greater support as she moves forward with the case.

The riots in Baltimore, the demonstrations across the country, are sparked by police abuse.  But the police are placed in an impossible task of trying to keep order in communities like Sandtown, scarred by desperate poverty and deep despair, with joblessness, boarded up homes, closed plants, crushed hopes leading to drugs and too often violence.  Black lives matter is not simply a demand for equal treatment from police and the criminal justice system.  It must be a call for jobs, for schools, for hope.

Marilyn Mosby can’t provide that.  But her decisive action gives people in Baltimore some hope for justice, and officials and people across the country an example to emulate.  Her act is not simply about this instance of police brutality.  It symbolizes the progress towards “liberty and justice for all” that we desperately need.

Jesse Jackson is the founder Rainbow/Operation PUSH.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail