Featured, Race & Politics

Freddie Gray’s Black Life Just Did Not Matter Enough

Perhaps, if you’re inclined to do so, you could argue that it’s Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s fault that none of the officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray will face jail time. You could say that Mosby was recklessly ambitious in “over-charging” the officers; an act that virtually ensured none would stick. And even that dropping the remaining charges on the officers who’ve yet to face trial — which happened earlier this morning — was her acquiescing to defeat. You’d be wrong, of course, but you’d have people who consider themselves to be reasonable people entertain — and perhaps even agree with — one of these arguments. (Or both.) And you could continue feeling good about yourself, or something, for being so sober.

The truth, however, is that the reason none of the officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray will face jail time is the same reason Freddie Gray is dead. His life just didn’t matter enough. His life just didn’t matter enough to bother keeping him alive. To bother not severing his spine, crushing his windbox, and rendering him comatose. And his life just didn’t matter enough to bother allowing the people directly responsible for his death to face any lasting legal consequence. Marilyn Mosby did everything within her power to prevent this from happening. But she was fighting against a force far greater than her. When you stand in front of a 12-ton garbage truck with brake failure speeding downhill — as valiant and courageous as your effort might be — you will (probably) get run over. Because that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. 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 damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Kwazi Style

    Disgusted, saddened, yet not surprised.

  • Dougie

    Awful part of this for me is that I did not even bat an eyelash. Even worse is that after thinking about it, I would have been absolutely shocked if they even got probation. I would have felt that was a win.

    97% of the folks reading this post understand what’s going on. They get it. We all get it. We all want Black lives to matter SO badly. It’s so ridiculously frustrating. Like HOW does this get defeated? Why is accountability so difficult to achieve?

    I’ll probably cry about this later.

    • Just proves that they are who we thought they were. Nothing has changed.

      • Brother Mouzone

        R.I.P Dennis Green

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      It’s not that accountability is difficult to achieve.

      It’s just that it isn’t meant for “us” to have it done in our favor. Only in theirs.

      And then they wonder why we are so angry.

      • Dougie

        AND THEN THEY WONDER WHY WE ARE SO ANGRY!

        How do they not get it? How are they not angry? HOW SWAY?!

        • Last Word

          This is just a reminder than we have MORE work to do in America and its going to take all of us standing together to make our voices heard where and when it counts -at the federal government level! Marilyn Mosby’s speech today was a voice of someone who was deeply disappointed and exhausted from fighting the good fight and overall heartbreaking to watch. Following what the court’s ruled, charges dropped, and the long list of things cops must do to hopefully avoid any Freddie Gray incident, I’m still not convinced that camera’s will matter, not when I’ve seen a 12 year old Black kid unjustly shot at a park with no justice, or Eric Garner, Sterling, etc. We are all one bullet away from being another hashtag.

          • rlgreen91

            Uh, I disagree – the types of reform and legislation we want to see is almost certainly going to come at the local and state levels. Federal level is important, but there is still so much freedom given to the states regarding implementation of federal policy. Look at how many stars turned away extra money to avoid following Obaamacare in its entirety. Federal policy can only do so much.

            • Last Word

              The federal government controls the country, and reserves the right to strip funds from any state as well as make the necessary amendments to ensure accountability is being upheld from every police department in the country. Relying on state level government to make these changes, creates inconsistency from state to state and will not solve the problems for our country as a whole. We need transparency as a country on this issue as these issues have surpassed local and state level problems affecting Blacks and minorities throughout the country. Much like desegregation had to be forced by the federal government and military, we can force accountability and laws on law enforcement.

              The fact no one including our president is willing to step up and force this change, -despite acknowledging stats have proven that cops are racially profiling blacks at higher percentages unjustly-, really proves how deep the level of corruption goes in America.

              • rlgreen91

                I’m not saying that we need to rely solely on local and state level government. But there’s a tendency to think that if we just pass some national law, then the issue we’re fighting about will be fixed, and that’s just not true. The actual implementation of those federal laws we’re seeking? That’s decided by your local and state reps. We can’t afford to just fight for something at the national level and think that’s enough – after all, we technically had the right to vote through an amendment and there were still poll taxes across the country. It has to be all levels of government. That means that you don’t just show up for presidential elections – you show up for every election. You don’t just worry about Congress is doing – you have a vested interest in what your city council is doing as well. We cannot think that doing work at the federal level is enough – a lot of freedom is given to states, counties, and cities in terms of implementing policy, and we have to make sure that they are doing so correctly.

                • Last Word

                  Perhaps you seem to misunderstand how government leadership works. The entire country is experiencing transparent mass discrimination, which is will require top commander in chief’s acknowledgement and strict voice from the top down to be effective. As the face of America, it is his job to lead and protect the citizens of America. The Federal government created, and allowed this problem to grow, and it’s therefore their job to correct this issue. Furthermore, I fully comprehend that work has to be done at the local and state level as well but again, this is a national issue and I expect a national leader to set the tone and lead by example, not the other way around.

                  • rlgreen91

                    Oh, no I’m not misunderstanding – I know how government and policy works. Rather, I think you are the one misunderstanding – my comments that is. We can and should expect the president to acknowledge this issues, but like I said, and you agreed, we cannot rely solely on work done at the federal level. Heck, we can’t even rely on the federal level – the president doesn’t have nearly as much power as we think he does usually, and as the past 8 years have shown, Congress can block a lot of legislation despite how much the President may advocate for it.

                    But, at the end of the day, the federal government is a far-off, distant entity to a lot of people. The people who are actually deciding those policy implementations, or following those created procedures? They live and work in our communities. We see them everyday. They’re not some distant, large government body, they’re flesh and blood people occupying the space around us. Those people are the ones we need to spend the most energy on.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Because they never been in our boots before.

          • EVER.

          • Not even the fucking Irish.

            • Katherinefdarden2

              <<o. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????:::::::!!br739p:….,….

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              Because most of them are too stupid to read the dictionary definition of slavery vs being indentured.

        • AnswerMe

          They don’t care. Why waste feelings and energy on people they only believe have success if there’s affirmative action is involved?

    • AmericanLegals

      Something is very WRONG with a society where people only have an outcry for injustice when it is based on race. We are all human beings and we all deserve the same rights. No one deserves to be killed and everyone is entitled to due process of law.

  • bballmom44

    My heart hurt watching that press conference. hurts…

  • HouseOfBonnets

    At this point I’m hoping the afterlife are granting multiple haunt passes per week for all victims (Including Treyvon, Mike,Freddie, Pillandro, Sandra and Freddie) so they can at least get some outer limits justice, because this entire system is for the birds.

  • miss t-lee

    She really tried her best.
    I hate that she couldn’t get justice for Freddie Gray and his family.

    • LMNOP

      She seems like an incredibly skilled prosecutor, too. If you have the best trying their best and it’s not enough, where do you even go from there?

      • miss t-lee

        True. I don’t doubt her skills, but seems like the die was cast from the beginning.
        Not even sure how to answer that question. :(

  • mr. steal your costco samples

    Mosby is a hero.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    Has the anger in the streets passed?

  • Tee

    I’m disgusted. But I am convinced that folks like George Zimmerman, the cops that killed Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and a host of others are suffering every day for what they’ve done. Guilt is something they won’t be able to avoid. If they are not suffering now, it will come later.

    • grownandsexy2

      I hope you’re right. It would give me some peace. But I really don’t think some of these sociopaths feel guilty and will ever feel guilty. You have to at least recognize their humanity. Once they divorce themselves from that, it’s a wrap.

    • iphone300

      Honestly I doubt these cops are Zimmerman is suffering, didon’t Zimmerman just sell the gun that killed tray von for a million?

    • Dcetstyle

      I used to feel that way but I do not anymore. A key ingredient in being a racist is denial of humanity. That’s why for the hundreds of years we have been here; we have struggled.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    From the CNN report

    “There were individual police officers that were witnesses to the case, yet were part of the investigative team, interrogations that were conducted without asking the most poignant questions, lead detectives that were completely uncooperative and started a counter-investigation to disprove the state’s case,” she said.”

    • Aren’t prosecutors ultimately reliant on the police? If that’s true, who watches the watchmen?

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        They watch each other. That’s why the buddy system always works.

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Arguably the prosecutors are the less powerful in the law and order pair. Just depends on the scenario.

        • woody

          Wasn’t the lead prosecutor black?

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            Yeah, and so were half of the folks who killed him.

            • woody

              So does that mean we have to watch some of us too?

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            She was, and so were three of the six accused.

      • Negro Libre

        No checks and balances.

        It would help if we had legal minds to deal with this issue, but unfortunately we don’t have ’em.

      • Essentially nobody.

      • Epsilonicus

        For Baltimore City, our police is controlled by the state. I dont know why and exactly how it works but the state runs the police in this city

      • Val

        Exactly my point about needing federal prosecutors to oversee investigations of police wrongdoing.

        • LMNOP

          I really feel like we need something higher than the US government at this point, when you have government employees committing murder and violence against unarmed civilians with impunity, and especially when they are targeting members of an oppressed minority, you are very clearly in crimes against humanity territory, where the international criminal court can step in specifically because a government responsible for these kinds of heinous acts needs an outside force to hold them accountable.

          I think that’s the best case scenario too. Unchecked state violence towards innocent civilians is often a precursor to revolutions or civil wars where a lot of people die. I think no one really wants to see America go down that path, but the people with the power to change the situation are refusing to do so.

          • Val

            I’m all for this, L. How do we proceed?

            • LMNOP

              I’m not sure honestly, but I’m going to do some research into that. The ICC usually comes to enforce once things have gone way too far and they are prosecuting people who participated in a full out genocide where hundreds of thousands of people were killed. But each and every state-sanctioned murder that was involved was a crime against humanity.

              You would think that intervening before things descend to that point would have the power to save lives and profoundly affect the course of a nation’s future.

              I’m going to look in to how that process works and who can initiate it, because I’m sure a change.org or White House petition could get thousands of signatures, which would at the least raise it to the level of things people are talking about.

              • Val

                Great, thanks. I see what I can find out too.

                • LMNOP

                  Well, apparently the US has signed but not ratified the treaty accepting the ICC and, from wikipedia, “Three signatory states—Israel, Sudan and the United States—have informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer intend to become states parties and, as such, have no legal obligations arising from their former representatives’ signature of the Statute.” Basically, the US decided that just like Israel and Sudan, they would actually like the freedom to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Which is horrific, but honestly, not surprising.

                  Also, “The co-operation of the non-party states with the ICC is envisioned by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to be of voluntary nature.” I can’t imagine the US voluntarily cooperating, and the only exception to voluntary cooperation is a situation where the security council has voted to require action. Considering both that the US is one of 5 permanent members of the security council, and the number of other dangerous, volatile situations the UN is not intervening in, I think that’s pretty unlikely.

                  So I guess the solution will have to be domestic, but it seems like asking the government to fight police violence is like asking the fast food industry to fight obesity. I guess outside investigations of police killings are probably the best bet for a solution operating within the system. But things like seeing Freddie Gray’s killers being charged by a state prosecutor and then walking really make you wonder if our justice system will ever be capable of/ willing to carry out justice.

                  So many people really do want to use the legal system to non-violently fight violence and injustice. But when you make that impossible…

                  • Val

                    Yeah, L, the U.S. is incredibly hypocritical when it comes to human rights. On the one had it is constantly lecturing others about their violations while one the other hand simultaneously ignoring or making light of its own.

                    I’m really not sure what the solution is. Working within the system just hasn’t worked because the system is rigged. I don’t think there will be a mass revolution because folks are too aught up in the rat race of trying to achieve the American Dream. Maybe a low key, low participation revolution is coming?

                    We see this kind of revolution in lots of countries around the world. Small groups wage war on the government for long periods of time. Anyway, something is brewing, I’m not sure what but with those recent shootings of police it seems some aren’t willing to wait quietly any longer.

          • whatever happened with blm wanting to go to the U.N ?

  • The math is simple. Either young poor Black men die, or young poor White men starve and never marry. Since there’s more of them than us, welp!

    • NomadaNare

      It really is this simple

      For someone to be on top some had to be on the bottom

    • tgtaggie

      I agree. I’m not surprised to be honest. She did her best but will be villinized in the media. Im still shocked that a presidential candidate just called for another country to commit espionage.

      At this point, I’m voting for this guy:

      • Epsilonicus

        Bruh, they have already started planning her electoral demise once she won the position.

        • tgtaggie

          I know. Mosby seem like a bright star. Hate to see someone like that take a hit.

    • iphone300

      I’m confused by your statement, what do you mean by white men starve and never marry

      • Black men in America have long been regarded as economic and $exual competition. Think about who gets brutalized by the police. It’s usually not pre-pubescent boys or old men. Heck, little girls and old women (save for Elanor Bumpurs…RIP) also avoid it. Why that particular demographic? Think about it. Also, there was some analysis published by the NY Times on Stormfront noting the obsessions with dating among the membership. I’m not saying…but I’m saying.

        • iphone300

          I had a feeling that’s what your saying and your not wrong. I feel like an idiot saying this but I feel like a root cause of racism is the fear that a black man will out perform a white man in the bed room

          • Sigma_Since 93

            The fear comes from many places.

            Europeans saw our intellect and gleaned what they could in hopes of making something better of it; sorta like the Chinese do with they reverse engineer our ish or steal it outright

            Slave owners sized up the strength of our ancestors and were shook

            Struggling White men saw a new wave of skilled workers, freed slaves, that would replace them in the workforce and began to plot against them

            Slave owners made us taboo so that upped the ante for Dwight women to have what was forbidden

            it goes on and on.

            • I remember researchers looking into slave, military and prison records to see if the roots of obesity trends may have had roots in the original distribution of the population. They found that the average Black man in the early 19th century had an inch and 10-15 lbs on the average White man. Remember, these are averages. One can extrapolate from there.

              • Sigma_Since 93

                And you add in some of us were already warriors in our native lands,Dwights used us for sport (throwing dem hands), and some of us wanted some payback. I’d be scared too.

                • Yes which is why the English smartened up and mixed tribes in the states.. you didn’t Maroons a, Akan, Ashanti, nd Dahomemians fucking up the program so you mixed then with an Edo or Fon or Hausa..

          • SS93 answered the big points, but I’d like to throw something in I stumbled onto while researching this topic. During WWII, Gallup performed a survey of Southern White Men to see what they thought was the biggest concern of Black men. They were trying to see if the White guys were worried about job competition after WWII wrapped up. However, the two biggest concerns were Black men sleeping with White women and Black men marrying White women. Nothing else came close.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              A population takeover with the Black man having the dominant strategy of being able to have his choice of any white of black woman and White men left to fight for the scraps.

            • NonyaB

              Yet, the mandingo subculture persists amidst that fear. Talk about fked up realities of ‘murica.

              • Mary Burrell

                Remember the murderer Dylan Roof from the Charleston massacre in his manifesto “We need to protect our women.”

                • NonyaB

                  The fear-driven hate and bullsh~t is multi-generational.

            • lkeke35

              Couple that with the latest info on the birth rates for white people and there you have it. Connect the dots.

          • NonyaB

            Yet, amidst that fear is an entire subculture of mandingo adherents; whyte dudes whose freaky staple is getting black dudes to f~~k their wives while they watch. They even have group summits for it. Oh, ‘Murica.

            • iphone300

              I very heard about that but, “group summits” though smh

              • Mary Burrell

                It true there is a subculture that likes to role play the Mandi go fantasy. That’s pretty disgusting

              • NonyaB

                First I heard of it was by reading some article years ago about such a group meetup.

            • Mary Burrell

              When Black men were lynched the always mutilated their genitalia. I always believed Dwight males envied Black men for this reason.

              • NonyaB

                And they had the effrontery to call BM primitive/savages.

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