African-American Justice, Representation, And The State’s Attorney In Baltimore


MSNBC talks with Christina Greer, Mychal Denzel Smith, Lester Spence, and Neil Roberts about justice, political representation in Baltimore, and the role of the new State’s Attorney.

Officer Asks To See Knife In Freddie Gray Case


A defense attorney for one of the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray is challenging prosecutors’ claim that Gray was falsely arrested. He filed a motion Tuesday demanding to inspect the knife Gray carried.

Marc L. Zayon, the attorney for Baltimore officer Edward Nero, asked a judge to make the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office and Baltimore police turn over the blue knife Gray carried to determine whether it’s legal in the city of Baltimore. The knife was found clipped to the inside of Gray’s pants pockets after officers took him down, writes The Baltimore Sun.

There has been some questions on whether Freddie Gray had a “switchblade” or a pocket knife. The request to see the knife is significant because a folding pocket knife is not illegal. However, a spring-loaded switchblade knife is.

Last month, Baltimore City police wrote in court documents that Freddie Gray was arrested “without force or incident” for having a “switchblade knife.”

According to the Associated Press, the State’s Attorney of Baltimore Marilyn Mosby states that the knife was not a switchblade and was legal.

The knife was found “clipped to Gray’s pants pocket,” states the Associated Press.

NBC called the knife a “folding knife” that was folded in. In other words, it was a pocket knife.

The motion by the lawyer was the first legal move in defense of an officer involved in the April 12 arrest of Gray, who died a week later from spinal injuries suffered while in police custody.

(Updated article)

Crowdfunding Website For Baltimore Police Charged In Freddie Gray’s Murder Shut Down

A “crowdfunding” site for a campaign to raise money for the six Baltimore police officers charged in death of Freddie Gray was shut down, according to The L.A. Times.

The Baltimore police union launched a GoFundMe page Friday, but a spokeswoman said the page has been removed because it violated GoFundMe company policy.

“GoFundMe cannot be used to benefit those who are charged with serious violations of the law,” said Kelsea Little, GoFundMe’s public relations manager. “The campaign clearly stated that the money raised would be used to assist the officers with their legal fees, which is a direct violation of GoFundMe’s terms.”

The L.A. Times writes that the website specifically bars campaigns “in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”

What Is Currently Going On In Baltimore?

It has been about a week since the worst of the riots in Baltimore.  What has been recently going on?

Protests have been largely celebratory since State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against the six police officers involved in Freddie Gray’s arrest, states The Baltimore Sun.

The announcement by the city’s top prosecutor came as a shock to many in the Baltimore Police Department.

The police department officially handed over the case to Mosby’s office last week but will continue to investigate Gray’s death, Commissioner Anthony Batts said.

Gray died April 19, a week after his arrest.

Hundreds rejoiced and sang outside City Hall on Sunday, and many residents attended special worship services across the city, writes The Baltimore Sun.

Crime unrelated to the protests spiked last week, despite the additional police on duty and heavy National Guard presence.

Eight homicides and 12 shootings have been reported across the city since Tuesday.

Outside of the city, observers are looking at how the events in Baltimore will play into presidential campaigns. Former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said the tensions that erupted into riots last week would be central to his presidential campaign, should he decide to run for office.

The New Republice writes that members of the city’s rival gangs—the Bloods, Crips, Black Guerrilla Family (BGF)—say they’ve declared a truce and vowed to bring peace to their communities.


Many people in the city wonder what might be the long term economic impact to Baltimore after the riots destroyed some businesses, and left many outside the city with a negative image.

Baltimore Curfew Lifted

Protesters in Baltimore, 2 May

Baltimore has lifted its overnight curfew that was imposed after riots sparked by the death of a Freddie Gray while in police custody, states The BBC.

National Guard troops are now pulling out of the city, writes the BBC.

The curfew was put in place on Tuesday, after protests over Freddie Gray’s death turned into rioting.

What Are Prison Conditions Like For The Baltimore Protesters?

The Young Turks

According to NBC Bay Area, an attorney in the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender has become a Facebook and media sensation after her post describing conditions in a holding cell earlier this week following protesting in Baltimore.

The 1,242-word post by Marci Tarrant Johnson had been shared over 28,000 times as of Friday morning.

Johnson said, “I really felt that this was exceptional and people should know what was going on.”

Johnson described a holding cell where women were told not to drink the water because it was “bad.”

There were 15 women crowded into the cell with no room for them to lie down.

Johnson said some of the women in the cell weren’t sure they had even broken the law, but were caught up in a police sweep and they ended up in jail.

On Thursday, authorities released 101 people from jail without charges being filed.

Officials with the Maryland courts didn’t immediately return phone calls or e-mail from NBC seeking comment.

Another Look At Baltimore

There have been several reviews of the situation in Baltimore recently.

Friday morning, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the results of autopsy of Freddie Gray.

Freddie Gray’s fatal neck injury – a nearly severed spine – was the result of being handcuffed but not secured in the police wagon, according to the District Attorney.

Specifically, Gray was bound by his wrists and ankles and left stomach-down on the floor of the van as it drove around West Baltimore.

There have been concerns that Gray received what is known as a “rough ride” or “nickel ride,” where the driver intentionally drives in a reckless manner to throw around the prisoners in back.

At least two officers checked on Gray’s status during the drive, but they didn’t act when he said he couldn’t breathe.

Despite pleas and a “rapidly deteriorating” condition, he received no medical assistance. When Gray finally arrived at the station, he was in cardiac arrest.

Gray had been riding in a compartment on the right side of the van.

The Baltimore Police Department suggested—in a release to the media—that Gray had killed himself.  In a leaked memo, police said that the prisoner on the left side of the van claimed Gray injured himself on purpose.

According to The New York Times,  a prisoner was in the left compartment for part of the ride, but the two were separated by a wall. Reports say there was no camera on the inside of the van.

There’s more, though.  According to Mosby, the arrest itself was illegal. Police had no cause for detaining Gray, not even for possession of a weapon; the knife they found in his pocket was not a switchblade and thus was legal under Maryland law.

“No crime had been committed by Mr. Gray,” said Mosby.

In short, Gray was wrongly detained by police and fatally injured under their care. The six officers—Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., Officer William Porter, Lt. Brian Rice, Officer Edward Nero, Officer Garrett Miller, and Sgt. Alicia White—knew Gray needed medical help and chose not to act, ensuring his fate.  His death, said Mosby, was a “homicide.”

It is very rare for police to face criminal charges. “Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005,” notes the Washington Post in a recent look at police violence, “only 54 officers have been charged.”

In Maryland, with its high rate of “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement, police officers were charged with crimes in less than 2 percent of cases where a civilian died.  Gray’s death wasn’t a shooting. But these charges challenge the pattern.

Did more get done against Freddie Gray because of the leadership in Baltimore?

The choice to charge the officers was a legal one, states Slate Magazine.  However, it’s hard to dismiss the optics of Baltimore’s black leadership.  Compared with the leadership of a city like Ferguson, could it be that these leaders have closer ties to their constituents and a better finger on the pulse of the community?  Between the protests and the riots and the general discontent, officials had to have known that no charges would turn a volatile situation dangerous, according to Slate.

There’s no guarantee the charges will stick.  Take the case of the killer of Rekia Boyd—an off-duty Chicago cop who fired into a group of people, believing one had reached for a gun, and killed the unarmed Boyd.  He was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

He was acquitted.

But if the problem of police violence is, in part, a problem of accountability, then the charges are important, regardless of what comes next.

In so many words, the city of Baltimore has said that these officers were wrong: and that Freddie Gray’s life mattered and that wearing a badge doesn’t mean you’re not responsible.

MSNBC Interviews Baltimore Resident: ‘Enough Is Enough’


MSNBC speaks with Danielle, a Baltimore local who believes “this is a time that we really need to come together,” and expresses frustration at the media’s lack of attention to peaceful protests in Baltimore in the days before the violence.

Freddie Gray died on April 19th of this year.

Baltimore Police Officers Charged In Freddie Gray’s Murder

Six Baltimore Police officers who were charged Friday in the death of Freddie Gray: Officer Caesar Goodson; Lt. Brian Rice; Sgt. Alicia White; Officer Garrett Miller; Officer William Porter; and Officer Edward Nero.

According to The New York Times, the officers who were arrested, three white and three black, include a lieutenant with 17 years on the force, several near-rookies and a woman who had just been promoted to sergeant.

The most serious charges were brought against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who was driving the van that carried Mr. Gray to a police station after his April 12 arrest. Along with involuntary manslaughter, Officer Goodson, 45, was charged with “second-degree depraved heart murder,” which means indifference to human life.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the other officers were charged with offenses that included involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office. The officers were taken into custody Friday and released on bail.