Baltimore Action Legal Team Statement on What Justice for Freddie Gray Requires
Baltimore Action Legal Team
December 18, 2015
CONTACT – firstname.lastname@example.org; 443-814-9160
Baltimore, MD - As our entire city is aware, Judge Williams declared a mistrial in the matter of the State of Maryland v. William Porter because 12 jurors could not agree on a unanimous decision on any of the four charges Mr. Porter faced. Baltimore Action Legal Team (BALT) is saddened by the news, but hopeful that Freddie Gray will receive justice. To be clear, anything less than a guilty verdict for all officers involved is not justice.
In response to the mistrial, BALT held a panel discussion on Wednesday night to dissect what happened in the Porter trial. BALT is committed to increasing the awareness of injustices rooted in structural racism and economic inequality. Unfortunately, the law in this case is not as clear as it needs to be. As attorneys, we understand the complex nature of this case. Mr. Porter was not charged with committing an act. In fact, he was charged for failing to act. Aside from the obvious legal questions raised by this case (and the many others like it), there is a much broader discussion BALT can’t ignore – we must not simply decry the unfair results of an unjust system – we must explore ways we can create a better system.
We must change the current legal framework so that this will never happen again. We know the system is broken when it places an officer’s standard of care so low that we are forced to discuss if and when an officer should fasten the seatbelt of a man who begged for medical attention while under ultimately life-ending distress. But that is the conversation we are having because today’s criminal justice system was never designed to work for the marginalized and underprivileged. To that end, the officers in this case have experienced an unprecedented amount of favor and bias. The officers were arrested in May, and the first trial finished by year’s end. That’s unprecedented for this type of case. While we appreciate the swift justice, we cannot help but think about the hundreds of people sitting behind bars for weeks, months, and even years waiting for their day in court because of a unfair cash bail system.
While convictions for police who abuse and kill black and brown people with impunity is vital, the underlying legal structure requires drastic change in order to achieve the justice we seek. To that end, BALT supports and calls for changing the laws that currently protect police officers from being held accountable – primarily the reform of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. To achieve this goal, we will continue to support community organizing spearheaded by local, black-led, grassroots organizations who are at the forefront of change in our City and our nation.
Because black lives matter, it is our duty to fight for our freedom, and it is our duty to win.