It is very difficult to defend the destruction of innocent people’s property. As you watch people attacking stores, CVS, Subway, and the like, we should wonder how this will affect these business owners. Business owners who employ these vandals’ neighbors and friends. How will these attacks affect those friends and neighbors who will lose time for repairs? Yet, at the same time, what would we do if we were the friends of Freddie Gray.
Now, I do not want you to think that I have flipped my lid or some such thing, but I would like for us to consider for just a second. What would you do if your brother, father, son, or friend stepped into police custody and then never walked again? What if someone you loved died due to treatment by people who swore to protect them?
I have asked this question, completely apart from the issue of this man’s guilt or innocence. What I want us to think about is what responsibility these officers had for the safety of this man. It is not my job to decide if he was guilty or innocent. That would have been for a jury of his peers to decide. What I want us to look at is the job of the police in this situation.
I also want to steer clear of any questions of probable cause. It can muddy the water as to the facts. Had Gray done anything that facilitated the chase and subsequent arrest? Again, that is not an issue for me to decide. Rather, let us look at the facts as they stand. The young man was arrested. He was in police custody. From the time of the last clear video until he was placed under EMT care, what happened? But even more important, who is responsible?
The first thing that I want you to consider is the responsibility of the police. It is their first and primary responsibility to protect the citizens in their jurisdiction. They have sworn an oath to provide these people protection from the lawless. The police are to stop illegal acts and the perpetrators of these acts. So the safety and wellbeing of the citizen should be the primary responsibility.
So what happened in this case? The Baltimore Sun reports
In a bystander’s video Gray is shown being pulled to the van, his feet dragging, before standing briefly on his own as he’s placed inside the van.
But then, there was a cause to stop the van, remove Grey and shackle him. At this point, there are no video documentation for us to look to for proof. There has been no legal arrest made because as to this point the closest thing to a charge is that Grey made eye contact with a policeman. Because of this supposed eye contact, the man was tackled, assault, and imprisoned. Then, he was removed from the van and had his feet shackled.
One block south and four minutes later, at 8:46 a.m. at Mount and Baker streets, the van stopped because Gray was acting “irate,” police said. Police have also said that paperwork had to be filled out, though they have not provided more detail.
Gray was taken out of the van so officers could place leg shackles on him. Police have said he was not buckled into the van with a seat belt afterward, even though that is required by department policy.
So I ask you again, what would you have done? What would you do if this had been your son? What if your son was kidnapped, imprisoned, and killed? Does it make it better that the man might have been a thug? You see we have to remember that the police have not the right to try and convict criminals. Their job is to investigate and apprehend.
At the same time, the action of those who are selfishly seeking gain and goods from this tragedy; you are burning your own house down; you fool! Seek all legal recourse with the realization that there are good cops in your city. Help them bring down the bad.
We want to paint this situation as a black, white, police crook situation. It is a right-wrong, thing. It is wrong for anyone to take another’s life except in the lawful killing as punishment or in self-defense. Neither was the case here. But it is as bad to punish the innocent because the powerful are guilty.
May God bring clarity, peace and forgiveness to the city and people of Baltimore.