As The Fourth Officer Charged In Freddie Gray’s Death Is Correctly Acquitted, What Do African Americans Mean By “Accountable”? [ Partially Restored ]

Lt__Brian_Rice

In Baltimore, Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted Lt. Brian Rice of all charges  related to Freddie Gray’s arrest and death. As he had with two other officers charged in the case (the trial of the third ended in a hung jury), Judge Williams cleared Rice, ruling that the prosecution hadn’t proved its case. This was the result widely predicted by legal ethics, because it was apparent that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby had rushed the decision to prosecute and proceeded without sufficient investigation or evidence.

Williams said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proving the charges against Rice beyond a reasonable doubt, and instead had asked  the court to rely on “presumptions or assumptions.” He said that the court “cannot be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion.”

The result spurred a predictable response from activists.”So far, nobody’s been guilty for this man’s death,” said protester Dornell Brown. “Nobody’s been held accountable. Verdict after verdict after verdict, they’ve been getting off. Who’s gonna be held accountable for that man’s death?”  “This is a man who had chain of command responsibility for Freddie Gray and so he should be held responsible and accountable for what happened to Freddie Gray,” Brian Dolge, another protester said. Protester Arthur Johnson, who has held a sign outside of each of the four trials of the officers  connected with Gray’s death, said,

“It’s just what I and the community expected. You’ve got an individual that interacts with six other individuals over something trivial and that individual ends up dead and we can’t even get reckless endangerment.”

[ NOTICE: This is all I could recover from the original post, which was up, then disappeared when some glitch crashed it with the last Melania post. More than a thousand words followed, and it was, I think, an important post, but I have neither the time nor the heart to try to reconstruct it. So, with apologies, I will summarize the main points

. I also apologize for the comments to that post, which somehow ended up with Melania, where they now make no sense. I had to delete them. Ugh. This has never happened before. I hope it doesn’t happen again., though because I don’t know why it happened at all, that is just a hope.]

In summation:

1. These statements represent a false definition of accountability and justice. The concept appears to be that any time a black citizen dies at the hands of a police officer without incontrovertible  proof that the citizen was threatening the life of the officer with a deadly weapon, accountability mandates criminal charges, a trial, and a conviction. Anything less is not justice or accountability.

2. This is not American justice, and should not be. No charges should be brought without probable cause and sufficient evidence to convict. No conviction should occur unless a fair trial finds an officer guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

3. The version of justice and accountability that black activists are promoting is ancient tribal justice, primitive justice based on “an eye for an eye” and vengeance. Unless blood pays for blood, there has been no accountability.

4.  Disgracefully, States Attorney Marilyn Mosby pandered to this dangerous and retrograde version of  accountability and justice, further entrenching it and validating it in Baltimore and the black community nationally.

5. In fact, there has been accountability for the death of  Gray. Baltimore paid a multi-million dollar settlement to Gray’s family for the acts of the city’s employees resulting in Gray’s demise. It is likely that some of the police officers, perhaps all, will face administrative discipline.

6. Why does the African-American community so widely reject the evolved justice system of modern America? Sociologists can argue about that. I believe it is a result of frustration, history, the problem of living in high crime areas, and confirmation bias. There is also great and dangerous ignorance across all segments of the public regarding how the justice system works, and why. Tribal justice, like gang justice, is simple: one of us has dies, so the killer must be punished. The details don’t matter. It takes no knowledge or understanding of jurisprudence to conclude that if “one of us” is hurt or killed, the responsible party has to suffer.

7. There will be no resolution to the current societal divide  and racial distrust until there is a threshold consensus on what accountability and justice means in this society. What has occurred in the Gray trials is justice. The prosecution failed its burden of proof. African Americans benefit from that standards of justice too.

8. Unless some eminent, trusted, respected, persuasive, and influential black leaders have the courage to confront black activists and make them understand that the versions of accountability and justice they are demonstrating for are destructive, divisive and wrong, the police/black and black/white conflicts will become more bitter.

19 thoughts on “As The Fourth Officer Charged In Freddie Gray’s Death Is Correctly Acquitted, What Do African Americans Mean By “Accountable”? [ Partially Restored ]

    • I didn’t say all African Americans. Still, until I hear someone, anyone, speaking for the community who rejects those views, I think the characterization is fair. This is what the African American community is calling for when it demands accountability and justice. It’s wrong, and until I hear either Obama, Sharpton, Booker, the NAACP and others state clearly and openly that its wrong, I have to presume that the community is united on this issue at least.

      • Who wrote the below?

        “Big, messy, history-making catastrophes have to teach societal lessons, and the seriousness of those lessons can only be recognized if there is an archival record of someone with a face, a name and a reputation paying a hefty price for the harm caused. It is difficult, not to mention unsatisfying, to punish organizations, which tend to suffer by paying huge amounts of money or going out of business. Everyone knows, however, that it wasn’t really the organization but its leadership, management and staff that really caused the disaster in question, in a dizzying tangle of bad luck, bad choices, and bad character that is usually impossible to decipher accurately. Thus it becomes essential to settle on one or more individuals to heap the blame on, so when fingers are pointed, they don’t have to point to an organizational chart. If someone with a face isn’t held accountable, then it seems like nobody is held accountable. A tragedy of horrifying proportions is just shrugged away, with a “These things happen” and an unsatisfactory “Nobody is to blame, and everyone is to blame.” Society can’t tolerate that, and it shouldn’t; it makes a mockery of justice and common sense. We send people to jail for muggings, but when billions are lost, lives lost, livelihoods ruined, and the nation traumatized, nothing but fines and firings? Never. We need scapegoats in such situations, and usually we find them. If someone, a real person, isn’t punished and hard, then the tragedy is trivialized, and the likelihood of it recurring increases.

        “The appearance of no accountability for disaster obliterates public trust as surely as corruption.”

        ” It is dangerous to society’s values to allow responsibility for a massive disaster and human tragedy to be diffused through so many actors and agents that in the eyes of history, no one is held accountable.

        I understand these arguments. After all, so the argument goes, we have to avoid the appearance of no accountability, right? I mean, according to the author of the above, “somebody’s got to go to jail” for the death of Freddie Gray, even though Lt. Brian Rice’s “crime was one of moral luck”. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. After all, Freddie Gray’s death has to “to teach societal lessons”, His death can not be “shrugged away, with a “These things happen” and an unsatisfactory “Nobody is to blame, and everyone is to blame.” It does “matter, certainly not to the public screaming for “justice.” Society can’t tolerate that, and it shouldn’t; it makes a mockery of justice and common sense. “. “The photographs” of Freddie Gray’s autopsy “showed that there had been an intolerable and obscene crime against humanity, and somebody had to pay”. Arthur Johnson felt that “somebody had to pay”.

        The author of the above was you

        https://ethicsalarms.com/2012/12/02/in-the-wake-of-the-bp-disaster-another-andersonville-trial/

        • Yes, thanks for the honor. You do recognize that none of those comments referenced criminal penalties, but rather administrative and employment penalties. Discipline, dishonor, but not trial and imprisonment.

          That was a lot of work for a bad analogy.

          • What about the phrase, “somebody’s got to go to jail.”? And the article I quoted was about criminal prosecution. You yourself wrote, ” when billions are lost, lives lost, livelihoods ruined, and the nation traumatized, nothing but fines and firings? Never. “

            • Fair point, but also distorted. That discussion was regarding an act that was criminal in results and content. We can see the backlash against the system when there was no effort made to prosecute some of the worst of the Wall Street manipulators as shown in “The Big Short.” The Andersonsville trial involved the officer responsible for the mistreatment of prisoners of war, though he could hardly had prevented it. These are macro, societal tragedies. The death of an unarmed black suspect who resists arrest and the lawful authority of a police officer is not analogous. Do you really think it is?

    • That’s something of a catch 22. On one hand… No, you don’t want to treat any demographic as if they think or act a certain way, imply for belonging to the group, or the other… In a lot of ways, black America does act similarly to a bloc. Look at voting habits, for instance, somewhere between 85 and 95% of black Americans will vote democrat in any given election. Yes, that means something like 5 to 15% of them won’t… But I think it denies reality not to point out that the group as a whole expresses a conformity of thought not often found in other demographics. If white Americans expressed the same conformity of thought, Democrats would never form government again.

        • “So why the lack of conformity among whites, in your opinion?”

          This seems obvious. Whites have been the dominant group in American society since the United States was invented. We’ve never been an oppressed group here like many ethnic minorities have been, so we haven’t had to cultivate such a strong in-group identity to the point where we have conformity of thought; when every single president for 200 years is white, and when whites have always controlled the major political parties, you’re gonna have a lot more diversity of thought. There’s only been one black president, so it makes sense black voters would flock to him.

    • Lemon’s tactic of not allowing the Sheriff to speak seems to be fairly common these days. Also, ignoring actual numbers is liberal tactic, as well.

  1. Obviously there was a serious software glitch. Oh well, forward we trod…

    Marilyn Mosby was an active part of the mob justice league, it’s my opinion that she flushed the law down the toilet in favor of the bigoted and racist mob; she should be removed from her position for complete incompetence.

    These officers lives have likely been destroyed as a result of this incident and the fallout, but of course none of the black racists or race baiting apologists across the country give a damn about that. Is there anything these Officers can do to bring a class-action suit against Mosby for defamation?

    • I think this is career ending for her. Her white consitituents won’t appreciate the raciallycharged witch hunt, and her black constituents won’t appreciate the lack of convictions. In a way, I feel for her, I doubt there were many bright and sunny roads away from Freddy Gray for her, but that doen’t mean when faced with bad choices you choose the worst.

      • Yes, but could not Moseby’s actions be justified? After all, we have to avoid the appearance of no accountability, right? I mean “somebody’s got to go to jail” for the death of Freddie Gray, even though Lt. Brian Rice’s “crime was one of moral luck”. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. After all, Freddie Gray’s death has to “to teach societal lessons”, His death can not be “shrugged away, with a “These things happen” and an unsatisfactory “Nobody is to blame, and everyone is to blame.” It does “matter, certainly not to the public screaming for “justice.” Society can’t tolerate that, and it shouldn’t; it makes a mockery of justice and common sense. “. “The photographs” of Freddie Gray’s autopsy “showed that there had been an intolerable and obscene crime against humanity, and somebody had to pay”.

  2. There are two conflicting issues.
    The first is of individual liberty and justice. Was the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt? The trial said no, and I’m in no position to contradict that finding.

    But what happens when, regardless of circumstances, the verdict is apparently a foregone conclusion, again, regardless of the facts? That’s the second issue, when all faith in the legal system is gone. Where justice may be done (though I feel the odds of that are remote in the general case) but is certainly not seen to be done?

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/miami-police-shoot-black-man-with-his-hands-up-trying-to-help-autistic-patient-20160721-gqb53q.html

    What happens when the expectation in this case is that the shooter won’t be facing any serious consequences? When weregeld is paid, but that’s it? When the expectation is that the same kind of thing will happen in future, and that the same kind of thing has happened in the past, again, with zero personal accountability?

    Whether that expectation is correct or not doesn’t matter so much from a societal viewpoint. What matters is that such a view is not unreasonable, and is very widely held.

    • I don’t know what “foregone conclusion” means in this context. It’s like the Hillary case: if you said “they’ll never indict her” and they don’t, that doesn’t prove that they, in fact, were not willing to. I would be surprised if the case you linked to doesn’t cause a significant legal response.

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