Freddie Gray Joins The List Of Murdered Black People Who No One Actually Murdered, Apparently » VSB

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Freddie Gray Joins The List Of Murdered Black People Who No One Actually Murdered, Apparently

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Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the police van where Freddie Gray was intentionally given a “rough ride” — an act that severed his spinal cord, placed him in a coma, and killed him — was found not guilty on each of the charges (second degree “depraved heart” murder, three different counts of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office) stemming from Gray’s death. He is the third officer charged in Gray’s death to escape conviction. Three more still await trial, but convictions for any of them seem extremely unlikely now.

Naturally, this series of events leads you to believe that no one actually killed Freddie Gray. Which, of course, seems preposterous. After all, his spinal cord was severed, he was placed in a coma, and he did die as a result of the injuries he received while in that van. Someone or a group of someones must’ve done this to him. But its only preposterous if you fail to realize that it’s not without precedent. American history is full of instances of Black people 1) getting murdered, 2) having their murderers be known to the public, and 3) having those murders carried out in public with no legal consequence for the crime. Sometimes it’s done by officers of the law. Sometimes it’s done by neighborhood watchmen. Sometimes it’s done by crowds of people. And sometimes — like with the castration, burning, flaying, and lynching of Jesse Washington — the murder becomes a festive and communal event, complete with food, music, souvenirs, and commemorative postcards.

Of course, if you’re no one; if you’re a thing that exists but doesn’t actually matter — which is how these dead Black people were regarded by their killers — no one can murder you.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • #Merica

  • Val

    It’s not that he wasn’t murdered, he was. The justice system is just sending its usual message to us, that our lives don’t matter.

  • Mortal Man

    Thank you for this.

    Is as Coates says- the destruction of Black bodies is heritage. Nearly 400 years ago the people of this nascent nation decided that democracy had to be built on broken black backs. A civil war, ceaseless moral suasion, superlative social science, and a battery of laws has not disabused them of this evil idea.

  • Well, you know how America is: the police only get in trouble when they text their deeds or some underage prostitute starts putting out their biz on social media. Even live video evidence maybe inadmissible.

    • KMN

      the only ones they protect and serve are themselves…
      But what do I know?

      • Betty’s Babygirl

        FACTS is what you know.

    • grownandsexy2

      I remember a video in Philly where we were told that what we saw wasn’t what we saw. Like we were all sharing the same delusion.

  • KMN

    This is entirely too sad…my cousin died this way almost 40 years ago (at the hands of police officers)…it’s so sad that it keeps going on!!!
    I’m just going to quit life for a little bit because I can’t deal with it…I’m done adulting and life-ing

    • Fear not. We can buy liquor.

    • Val

      I’m very sorry to hear about your cousin, KMN. My condolences to you.

      • KMN

        TY Val…I was a little kid when he died…so I didn’t know him like that but it’s crazy how close to home something like this can be…oh it can never happen to us…the fuck it can’t…
        Earnest Lacy RIP

        • Cleojonz

          More of us have this in our family histories than we should be able to declare. My cousin died three years ago at the hands of police. He has battled mental illness for years, he had a knife, no guns, but was shot 23 times.

          It’s all so exhausting just trying to exist sometimes.

          • DomiMami

            What the fack?
            I assume no indictment, no condition, just throw money at the family?

            I’m sorry, Cleo.

            • Cleojonz

              Thanks Domi
              Yeah pretty much the same tale. No charges will be brought. They would rather have justice than the money you know?

          • fg

            he had a knife,

            found the problem.

    • LuLu ORange

      Unfortunately, same here KMN. DC police killed my cousin in the late 80’s, claiming he willingly jumped into the anacostia river…in the winter…with no coat. Never-mind the witnesses saying they drove him into the river on purpose and waited for him to drown. This ish CONTINUES to happen.

      • KMN

        Damn LuLu…I’m so sorry…it just AMAZES me the type of fuckery folks can get away with I sweatergawud

      • grownandsexy2

        WOW!! They tell all kinds of lies, all the time, with no conscience. And probably fall up in church every Sunday. And they wonder why black people riot. And you can always count on some white co-worker being baffled as to why we riot. I’m not saying it’s right but I do understand. That’s what happens when you pick a sore. One day it erupts. I’m surprised we don’t riot more than we do. This is too much to process. `

  • What people don’t seem to get that I could have been, could be and still might be ‘no one’. Put yourself in his family’s shoes and how could you not be outraged?

  • Tee

    I post this quote to FB every few weeks or so:

    “… black people and other oppressed people in this country are never to use violence to achieve what it is they want. But [America] uses violence whenever it chooses, and then it legitimizes the violence …”


    • Leah

      What is this quote from?

    • fg

      black people and other oppressed people in this country are never to use violence to achieve what it is they want.

      you have obviously never spent a night in chicago.

  • Betty’s Babygirl

    The New Jim Crow is in full effect. Adding insult to injury Resilient officers have joined the ranks by becoming the overseers. How do they reconcile that with what they do to us? Let me disabuse you Resilient officers of the thought that the same d a m n thing can’t happen to someone you love at the hands of a fellow officer’s. Being at wrong place at the wrong time is a b i t c h.

    • brothaskeeper

      Showing out for the YT cops….

      -Ice Cube

    • grownandsexy2

      Not only their love ones but it’s well documented that they can and have been taken out by their fellow officers.

      • Betty’s Babygirl


    • fg

      The New Jim Crow

      you would not know jim crow if it sat on your face and farted.

  • JennyJazzhands

    I’m kind of still reeling from Sandra. I’m not ready to read this. :(

  • BK

    Someone DID kill Freddie. That’s obvious. What’s frustrating is the fact that the prosecution can’t prove it to the judge. If this was a jury trial, there may have been a different outcime. Everybody was loving Marilyn Mosby last year when she announced all the charges. After all that, her lawyers can’t present a winning case.

    • Police are given the benefit of the doubt under the law but are not held to a higher standard like other political figures, especially since they have a police union. Imagine how congress would act, if they were allowed to have a union, funded by taxpayers? This is why, I’m all for paying cops more money, even doubling their salary, but the union has to go.

      There’s a story of cop in New York who killed a black guy, and even before reporting the shot to his department, he called a union rep. Like many people who work in the public sector i.e. the DMV, overtime an attitude develops where they begin to feel like they are doing the public a favor, even though their jobs only exist because of tax payer money: add guns and unions to the field and you end up with the American police.

      • Val

        “…are not held to a higher standard…”

        That’s key, NL. Amazingly, with regard to us, they are held to a lower standard.

        • KMN

          No one can put it better than this
          That’s key, NL. Amazingly, with regard to us, they are held to a lower standard.

        • That’s true, they are held to an amazingly low standard as is. I once read that the rate of DV cases among police is 4x the rate of the NFL, yet nothing happens and they are rarely fired. With us, we already know how they do.

        • BmoreLikeLA

          If you took an oath to protect and serve…if your job assignment to carry out this oath lands you in a particular community…and you terminate the life of/murder/destroy the inhabitants of that community…YOURE NOT DOING YOU JOB. They are held to a much lower standard when it comes to us. Best believe if I stopped answering phone call and emails indefinitely, my YT boss would boot me out with a quickness.

      • Betty’s Babygirl

        Having residency requirements would go a long way. If they have to live in the cities, and towns they patrol they would be seen as neighbors instead of an invading force.

        • grownandsexy2

          Not true in Philly. Philly police were required to live in the city they patrolled up until 2012 and they were still seen like the invading force they are.

          • Betty’s Babygirl

            I can see how it wouldn’t work if they were resentful of having to live within the city instead of the suburbs. Also, it doesn’t work if the top of the pyramid doesn’t set the tone of community policing.

            • grownandsexy2

              They begged for the right to live anywhere but the city. Interestingly, when they won the right to live outside the city you think they’d be running for the hills, but nah. The main complaint was feeling captive in an “urban jungle.” And I’m sure you know what that’s code speak for. They didn’t mince words. It appeared just like that in the daily paper. Once they had the opportunity to move, they likely found out just how expensive it is to live outside the city limits.

    • Val

      I still love Marilyn for trying and for her passion and bravery. She’s going to be suffering the price you pay for going against the system for the rest of her career.

      • esa

        two officers in the case, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter, filed a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against Marilyn Mosby. that is some next level psychopathology right there.

    • Mortal Man

      There’s no jury on this case?

      • BmoreLikeLA

        Goodson asked for a bench trial, particularly bc Judge Williams just acquitted Nero a few weeks ago

      • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

        No. Bench trial. Cops know who’s on their team.

    • f black

      there may have been a different outcome.

      yeah seeing as all of you wanted revenge, thats all its ever been about

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