Rev. Al Sharpton said he couldn’t resist the urge to get involved in the Freddie Gray case before meeting yesterday with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“I have been asked by many in the Baltimore area since day one to get involved in the justice for Freddie Gray movement. Though I have discussed it on my daily radio and TV shows and been in touch with our NAN Baltimore chapter, I resisted personal involvement until we saw what the promised May 1 investigation report would bring,” Sharpton said Monday in a statement through his National Action Network.
Baltimore police said Wednesday that the Friday report is not a public document but the internal investigation into the in-custody death of the 25 year old that will be turned over to state investigators. The state attorneys will then review and decide if any charges will be filed against officers.
Sharpton said he was “saddened and disappointed” that the public wouldn’t see the report Friday.
“It is concerning to me that a deadline that the police themselves had set and announced they have now conveniently changed,” he said. Therefore, he decided to come to Baltimore to meet with local leaders and “to schedule a two-day march in May from Baltimore to Washington.”
“The march will bring the case of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Eric Harris to the new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Ms. Lynch, in her new role that we all supported, must look and intervene in these cases. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
After speaking with Rawlings-Blake yesterday, Sharpton had the mayor on his MSNBC show.
“You know, we want to do more than just seek justice for Freddie Gray. We want to have justice, and in order to do that, we have to respect the process and we have to work very hard to make sure that this investigation is protected,” Rawlings-Blake said of the report release timeline. “…I certainly don’t want to give people the impression that the — that our state’s attorney will have made a decision by Friday.”
The mayor also defended her handling of the case and protests.
“I’m a criminal defense attorney — you know, by profession, before I was mayor. That’s what I did. I understand the issues of police brutality. I understand the issue of police misconduct, and we are making steady progress. Is this a tremendous setback, what is happening with our city? Absolutely it is. But it’s not going to stop me from confronting these issues and making sure that we get it right for our communities,” she said.
“I’m determined not to turn this into a political issue. We have to get this right, bring peace and order and healing in our city. I’m not going to play politics with it.”