There will be a celebratory atmosphere among the thousands of people in Baltimore expected to take part in a “victory rally” on Saturday. Marchers will be celebrating the indictments handed down by states’ attorney Marilyn Mosby, who charged six police officers with murder and assault in the case involving Freddie Gray.
You would think that the indictment of anyone for murder would have been met by a more solemn reaction. But this isn’t about reflection, or solemnity, or any uplifting civic virtue. It isn’t even very much about Freddie Gray.
This is about sticking it to the police, good and hard, and the satisfaction of seeing the “enemy” humbled.
Gray’s stepfather, Robert Shipley, said the family was happy the officers were charged, and he reiterated a plea to keep all public demonstrations peaceful.
“We are satisfied with today’s charges; they are an important step in getting justice for Freddie,” Shipley said. “But if you are not coming in peace, please don’t come at all.”
The family lawyer, Billy Murphy, said the charges are “a first step but not the last,” adding that Baltimore now has an opportunity to set an example for cities across the nation grappling with police brutality.
“The overwhelming number of people who have protested over the days didn’t know Freddie personally, but the people of Philadelphia, New York, Cincinnati, and in numerous cities and towns are expressing their outrage that there are too many Freddie Grays,” Murphy said. “If Freddie Gray is not to die in vain, we must seize this opportunity to reform police departments throughout this country, so there are no more days and times like this.”
A lawyer hired by the police union insisted the officers did nothing wrong. Attorney Michael Davey said Friday that Mosby has committed “an egregious rush to judgment.”
But for others who saw Gray’s arrest and death as a reflection of the city’s broad social and economic problems, the announcement of charges prompted celebrations in the streets.
At City Hall, Andrea Otom, 41, sobbed with something like joy.
“You have to be able to expect that at some time, the pendulum will swing in your favor, and in the black community we’ve seen it over and over and over where it doesn’t,” Otom said. “I’m so happy to see a day where the pendulum has finally begun to swing.”
Black Lawyers for Justice is expecting at least 10,000 people to show up for a protest rally Saturday in downtown Baltimore.
Justice isn’t a pendulum. It isn’t always, but it’s supposed to blind. It doesn’t depend on keeping score, giving one side a victory and then the other. If that’s the attitude of the black community in Baltimore, they are going to be royally disappointed. At least one liberal lawyer believes there’s a good chance the charges against the officers will be dropped:
Charges filed against the six Baltimore police officers for their involvement in the death of Freddie Grey will be dismissed, a George Washington University law professor predicted in an interview with The Daily Caller.
John Banzhaf, who teaches public interest law, says that the charges announced by Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby on Friday “go too far.”
“I think a prosecutor is going to have a hard time proving that the actions did in fact cause death, since they seem to have no theory as to how it occurred,” Banzhaf said in a phone interview.
And Alan Dershowitz thinks there’s a good chance that the officers will be acquitted:
Alan Dershowitz really went after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby today for charging the six cops involved in the death of Freddie Gray, saying it was entirely based on politics and “crowd control.”
Dershowitz lamented that “this is a very sad day for justice” and told Steve Malzberg that Mosby acted out of a “desire to prevent riots.” It will be “virtually impossible,” he predicted, for the six officers involved to get a fair trial.
And as for murder charges, Dershowitz said there’s “no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder” and “this is a show trial.” He predicted that Mosby might get removed as prosecutor and Baltimore citizens may get upset if and/or when they “move to a place with a different demographic.”
He concluded that it’s “unlikely they’ll get any convictions in this case” and if they do they’ll likely “be reversed on appeal.”
The haste with which these indictments were handed down — one day after prosecutor Mosby received the police report — suggests that Dershowitz may be on to something. “Riot prevention” seems a plausible explanation for what a lawyer for one of the arrested officers is calling a “rush to judgment.”