As I’ve often written, progressives, for it is virtually universally progressives that are social justice true believers and sympathizers, are usually woefully uninformed about the facts of such cases, and the Goodson case is no exception. This tends to be so because they consume only reliably progressive news and opinion sources, which tend to produce comments like that of the late Pauline Kael, a writer for The New Yorker, who, horrified by the defeat of George McGovern by Richard Nixon is said to have observed that result was impossible because she didn’t know anyone that voted for Nixon. I’m sure as a New York journalist she didn’t, which is the point: such people wrap themselves in a progressive bubble, impervious to other ideas, to any and all contrary evidence, to the truth.
The same is true with the Freddie Gray case (the SMM Gray case archive is here) and its separate trials. Anyone paying attention only to progressive sources would believe only the social justice Narrative. Goodson’s acquittal, therefore, would come as a shock. Every left-thinking person knows that the innocent Freddie Gray, a person of color, was the helpless victim of an evil police conspiracy. How could any of them have possibly been found not guilty? It’s an outrage! A miscarriage of (social) justice!
Some thinking this way do so for reasons of racial solidarity. To them, it matters not that Gray was a drug dealer and user, that he was under the influence of two classes of illegal drugs, his arrest was completely lawful and brought about by his own actions, and his death an accident caused by his attempt to scam the City of Baltimore with a crash for cash scheme. They are black, he was black, so he must be blameless.
Then there are those that know better. They are aware, to at least some degree, of the actual evidence, or in the Gray case, the utter lack of evidence, yet to maintain the purity of their ideology, their worldview, they choose to ignore the truth and embrace The Narrative. That The Narrative is inevitably destructive, not only to the innocent police officers, to race relations in Baltimore and beyond, and to the very safety of the minority populations about which they pretend to care so much is meaningless. If The Narrative is wrong, everything they believe is wrong. They lack the character to reconcile their ideology with conflicting facts.
The degree to which such people stray from the facts and truth is astonishing. Consider first this New York Times opinion piece by one Lawrence Brown, an assistant professor of “Community Health and Policy” at Morgan State University. One can discover more about Mr. Brown here.
Six officers were charged in Mr. Gray’s death in April 2015, and the Goodson verdict leaves the prosecutors at zero for three in convictions. Each case has brought mounting anger and confusion in the city’s disinvested, redlined black neighborhoods. The first prosecution, against Officer William G. Porter, resulted in a hung jury — giving hope, at least, that he could be found guilty in a retrial. But after another officer, Edward M. Nero, was acquitted in a bench trial last month, the public began to suspect that the officers’ strategy — claiming that their failure to use a seatbelt for Mr. Gray was common practice in the department — was a winning move.
Notice the assumption that the officer’s testimony that seatbelt use is uncommon was merely a “strategy,” the implication it was a lie. As regular readers know (the SMM Freddie Gray archive is available here), that testimony, backed up by numerous police procedure experts in three separate trials, is the truth. Police officers everywhere rarely use seatbelts, yet millions of prisoners are transported every year without the slightest injury. Also repeatedly stated by officers and experts alike is the fact that officers have discretion in seat belting, and that seatbelts, because prisoners can open them at will, secure no one. Recall too Judge Williams’ finding that failing to use a seatbelt did not cause Gray’s death, nor was it criminal.
It’s now clear that no one will be held criminally accountable for the death of Freddie Gray. Three trials and two acquittals mean that Freddie Gray somehow cracked his own spine and crushed his own voice box.
Brown here badly mischaracterizes the nature of Gray’s injuries and implies that he was purposely and repeatedly brutalized. The evidence presented in three trials does not remotely support his characterization.
But it also shows that our trust in the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office, led by Marilyn J. Mosby, was misplaced. Among other things, her decision to not make public the medical examiner’s initial statement that Mr. Gray’s death could have been an accident earned the severe criticism it got from Judge Barry G. Williams. Ms. Mosby already had a challenging case; by refusing to tackle the report head on, she hamstrung her team, in the courtroom and in the news media.
Brown is actually criticizing Mosby not for withholding exculpatory evidence, but because she didn’t use that evidence as a public relations tool against the officers. He ignores that there is a gag order in this case, and that Mosby was doing everything she could to hide that information from the Defense. So great is his reliance on The Narrative, so unable is he to recognize truth, so little does he understand, or care about, the Constitution, he cannot understand or admit that this alone makes it impossible to prove Gray’s death beyond a reasonable doubt. Mosby didn’t hamstring her team through not exploiting publicity to the benefit of The Narrative, her choice to prosecute the officers when they didn’t remotely have the evidence to secure a conviction did.
Just as in the murder trial of George Zimmerman in Florida, Baltimore is witnessing the nullification of justice for the death of an unarmed black man as a result of a weak prosecution strategy.
Brown draws unwarranted, misleading and false parallels between the Zimmerman and Gray cases (the SMM Trayvon Martin case archive is available here). The Zimmerman case was a classic case of self-defense. That Trayvon Martin was unarmed was legally, practically irrelevant. The prosecution of George Zimmerman, who was not a police officer, was “weak” primarily because there was no evidence whatever to convict Zimmerman. In that trial, the prosecution, in fact, proved self-defense. Martin was black, but because Zimmerman was Hispanic, and The Narrative required it, the Media invented a new race, and dubbed Zimmerman a “white-Hispanic.”
The Gray case is entirely different. Police officers made a lawful arrest of Freddie Gray, who accidently killed himself while being transported to Jail.
There are some similarities, however, similarities about which Brown appears to be entirely unaware. Martin and Gray were under the influence of illegal drugs, and both were criminals and known drug users. Both died as a result of their own bad choices and actions. In both cases, justice required the acquittal of the accused because there was no evidence to prove their guilt. In both cases, the prosecutions were entirely political, having nothing to do with the rule of law.
It remains to be seen how people living in Freddie Gray’s impoverished neighborhood, Sandtown-Winchester, or other black areas, will react. In the wake of Mr. Gray’s death and the subsequent uprising, it was Ms. Mosby who raised hopes of justice: ‘To those that are angry, hurt or have their own experiences of injustice at the hands of police officers, I urge you to channel that energy peacefully as we prosecute this case. I have heard your calls for ‘No justice, no peace.’ However, your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.’
Her fiery speech staved off further unrest. People didn’t want justice for Mr. Gray alone; in going after the police department, Ms. Mosby was seeking justice for every black Baltimorean who has been roughed up by aggressive cops or profiled for ‘driving while black.’ Now, a year later, it’s obvious that hoping for that justice was a delusion.
Brown sees Mosby’s “fiery speech” as necessary and noble, a promise of the deliverance of social justice. It was actually unprofessional, inflammatory and helped incite riots. It gave legitimacy to those that wanted to riot, loot and burn, and raised false expectations among many that Mosby would rain payback on the officers. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s idiotic comment about giving rioters “space to destroy” didn’t help, nor did her orders preventing police from stopping rioters. Mosby’s statement was the very opposite of what ethical prosecutors say and do, but it is certainly reflective of the social justice mindset. It’s interesting that Prosecutor Angela Corey gave a similar statement at the outset of the Zimmerman persecution.
Ultimately, Brown, and all social justice activists, don’t want justice, they want payback–social justice–against the police and society for centuries of real or imagined wrongs.
Brown veers off-topic to more social justice propaganda by criticizing a planned residential and commercial development in Baltimore, ignoring any economic benefits such as jobs, an augmented tax base and increased commerce, claiming it will produce only segregation and other favorite social justice ills, “and let the Freddie Grays of the world pay the price.” Brown concludes:
There are still three more officers awaiting trial, as well as Officer Porter, but the chances of guilty verdicts in any of them are slim. Nothing will change. Cops will continue to use aggressive tactics against black residents while the city diverts ever more money from the things that need it, including reforming the police department. The cycle will continue. Baltimore will see more Freddie Grays — and the fires that follow.
Brown is correct: guilty verdicts are improbable, but not because of police or justice system corruption. The justice system is working properly. There will be no convictions because the officers are innocent; there is no evidence to prove otherwise. He is wrong about “aggressive tactics.” The Freddie Gray case has implemented the Ferguson Effect in Baltimore. Crime, particularly violent crime, has increased dramatically. Officers are reasonably afraid to do their jobs. Many are leaving the BPD and Baltimore as fast as they can, and the BPD is having great difficulty recruiting new officers. Many of those applying in the current climate are not the kind of people any sane person wants in the job.
Reforming a police department–to whatever degree it needs to be reformed–does not take money. It takes honest, professional political and police leadership. The citizens of Baltimore have yet to choose to elect that kind of leadership. They are getting exactly what they have, for decades, asked for.
Baltimore may see more Freddie Grays because the social justice narrative yet lives. People like Brown will see to it. And those future officers too will be acquitted, at least as long as the rule of law exists in the Baltimore courts. It is the people about whom Brown professes to care that will suffer most, victimized by people like Freddie Gray and politicians that distract the public with social justice rather than securing equal justice for all.
Jill Stein is a physician, ran for governor of Massachusetts, and also ran for President on the Green Party ticket in 2012. Find more about Dr. Stein here. This from Dr. Stein, is, for those that know the Gray case, confounding:
I am physically sickened as I review the video of Freddy Gray’s arrest. A man screaming in pain is unable to walk, dragged like a rag doll by police towards their van. Witnesses describe Freddy Gray moments earlier being bent like a pretzel on the ground by the police as he screamed “get off my neck”.
“As a physician, I see red alert for a serious spinal cord injury well before Freddie Gray was loaded into the police van. As a human being I see the unspeakable violence of racist policing in all its horror.
The only way Stein could believe any of this is if she were completely ignorant of the evidence in the case. Gray was playing for a gathering crowd, and was perfectly able to walk. There is no evidence that any officer ever applied pressure to Gray’s neck, or that he said anything about his neck. In fact, the prosecution’s case argued that Gray suffered not the slightest injury until sometime between the 2nd and 4th stops, long after he was arrested. What Stein sees as unspeakable violence and racism was officers making a routine, unremarkable arrest, using only the bare minimum force necessary.
The evidence grows from there. On the same video, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake states Mr. Gray repeatedly requested medical attention. That he asked for his inhaler before the van arrived suggests he was already struggling to breathe, also consistent with a spinal cord injury. The subsequent autopsy report showing no bodily injury other than a severed spine also points to the police assault that bent him into a pretzel, as the cause of death. A ‘rough ride’ capable of breaking his neck would have caused multiple additional body injuries.
Dr. Stein demonstrates, once again, her utter lack of knowledge of forensic pathology and of the evidence. If Gray could speak, he could breathe. His request for an inhaler was a scam. The prosecution floated that trial balloon early in the case, but abandoned it when they found he never had one. The location of Gray’s spinal injury does not support Stein’s imagined “police assault,” and a “rough ride,” for which there is no evidence whatever, can certainly cause only a single, and/or localized injury. Gray’s requests for medical help were part and parcel of his “crash for cash” scam, a matter in which he had experience.
All this points to a catastrophic spinal cord injury resulting from the assault on Mr. Gray by police. It is shameful that he was not provided immediate medical attention. It is unthinkable that he was attacked by police in the first place without provocation or justification. It is inexcusable that his assaulters were charged with injuring him in the police van, when readily available evidence suggests he already had a devastating spinal injury as a result of their assault.
No one aware of the actual evidence, including the testimony of no less than five medical experts in multiple trials, could believe any of this. The officer’s arrest of Gray was entirely lawful. Their handling of him used no more force than reasonably necessary, and even the prosecution did not, for a moment, suggest Gray was injured until he had been driven some distance in the van. The prosecution did not suggest that the officers directed assaulted Gray in any way, and there is no evidence of it.
Here we see Stein descending entirely into social justice lunacy:
What kind of a sham judicial process is taking place? Is this intentional mischarging so as to guarantee impunity to the perpetrators? Or is this simply prosecutorial incompetence?
There was indeed intentional charge stacking with multiple overlapping charges, but this was done in the hope something–anything–would stick, not to absolve the officers. Too many political careers depended upon convicting someone of something, and the prosecutors, full of arrogance and animosity, thought they’d have no trouble with any of the trials. Incompetence? Certainly in filing charges for which there is no evidence. Certainly in attacking a police detective on the stand for no rational reason. Stein, obviously having no interest in actual justice, is just beginning:
Whatever this is, it is part of a larger crisis of intolerable racial violence in policing and the courts, not to mention in our prisons, society and political culture as a whole.
So, Judge Williams, and the three black police officers involved, are racists? Mosby is racist? Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is racist? How do we know Stein is demanding social justice rather than the rule of law? Read on:
It’s time for justice writ large – for police accountability, for civilian-controlled police review boards, and for independent prosecutors to investigate deaths at the hands of police. And it’s time for a truth and reconciliation commission to address this living legacy of racial violence that flows in an uninterrupted line from slavery to lynchings, Jim Crow, redlining, housing and school segregation, the war on drugs, and now, revealed by cell phone cameras, the epidemic of police violence.
“Justice writ large”? A “truth and reconciliation commission”? I may be wrong, but didn’t we have a civil rights movement that actually succeeded? Isn’t institutional racism illegal? Aren’t actual racists deservedly treated as the social pariahs they manifestly are? Weren’t we talking about the trials of a handful of police officers for specific criminal charges?
Meanwhile, Freddy Gray deserves to have those who took his life stand trial for valid charges for which there is compelling evidence, not a diversionary charge that ignores what is painfully evident to anyone whose eyes are not already closed.
This makes one wonder if Dr. Stein has the slightest knowledge of any of these cases. She certainly demonstrates her utter confusion about the nature of the American criminal justice system and its due process, presumption of innocence and the need to prove every element of every crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. One suspects Dr. Stein doesn’t care if there is no compelling evidence of any criminal behavior on the part of the officers. And what is this “diversionary charge” about which she speaks? Murder? Manslaughter? Reckless Endangerment? Assault?
No doubt Dr. Stein thinks herself a kind, compassionate, socially aware person, striving for the public good. But denying anyone the full protections of the Constitution, confusing social justice with actual justice, helps none and harms all. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said:
You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.
And as the Bible says in Jeremiah 5:21 (King James version):
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
None are so blind as they that will not see.