Black Lives Matter — Except, Apparently, in Baltimore

It is beyond my comprehension that no one will be held criminally responsible for the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore! Because three police officers, including the driver of the van, had been acquitted by a judge, the prosecutor — filled with frustration and anger — decided to throw in the towel and dropped all remaining charges against the Baltimore officers still awaiting trial. Why not?

Why not, when police officers put a handcuffed prisoner in the back of their van, refused to buckle him in with a seat belt (as protocol demands), and took him on a “rough ride” which successfully broke Gray’s neck and resulted in his eventual death? You mean to tell me that no one was responsible for this twenty-five year old black man’s death?

My wife Susanne had “Black Lives Matter” signs printed up right after Trayvon Martin’s murder and we had one in our yard almost immediately. I marched in a rally here in the Quad Cities after that event and recently in another across the Mississippi River’s Centennial Bridge protesting the most recent waves of killings — both of young black men and of innocent police officers just trying to do their jobs.

I believe it is absolutely possible both to be outraged at the instances of police brutality and racism resulting in so many of these homicides AND to recognize that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are not involved in such incidents, do their jobs faithfully everyday, and indeed find the doing of those jobs made even more complicated by the lack of confidence and trust many in predominantly black communities have for the so-called justice system in general and police officers in particular.

This distrust, disappointment, and despair will surely be increased by the incredible failure of that same justice system in Baltimore. How can anyone, with an ounce of compassion and basic knowledge of this case, not be outraged that no one will be held accountable? Oh yes, there will be some kind of “internal investigation” into the matter. Small comfort for Gloria Darden, Gray’s mother, and the growing number of black families who will never be able to hold their sons again.

The only hope I have in the midst of this sad situation is that the U.S. Justice department has launched an investigation into this case and other allegations of abuse and unlawful arrests. According to the Associated Press, “the results are expected soon.”

Well, I hope so. And let’s hope they come during the Obama Administration. Because, unless we elect Hillary Clinton next fall, you can be sure that such investigations will cease under a Trump administration. And God only knows what the climate on our streets will look like then.

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