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.]
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.