Monday, October 24, 2016

Baltimore Riots

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First, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said that she shared solidarity with Baltimore rioters over the police custody death of Freddy Gray… said that “our time” has come… and that she shared the “Rev.” Al Sharpton’s call for “No Justice, No Peace”.

Then, after making these political statements from the public podium, she took less than a day to review the Freddy Gray case file before charging six Baltimore police officers with multiple felonies including second-degree murder and manslaughter in the case.

Then she asked the presiding judge to issue a gag order to silence witnesses, police investigators, the defendants and their attorneys in the case.

Now she has filed a motion for a protective order with the court to keep the results of the Freddie Gray autopsy secret. According to the Baltimore Sun:

“Gray’s autopsy was released only to Mosby’s office, as required by state law. The Baltimore police department, which was conducting a parallel investigation at the same time Mosby’s investigators were conducting one of their own, was not provided the results of the autopsy.

If Mosby’s request for the protective order is granted, only the state’s attorney’s office and defense attorneys would be allowed to view the autopsy results and any other new filings in the case.”

Ivan Bates, the attorney for Alicia White, the lone female officer charged in the case, told the Sun that Mosby’s motion indicates:

“…there is something in that autopsy report that they are trying to hide.”

“Mrs. Mosby is the one who did an announcement discussing what she said the evidence was in a nationally televised speech, and now that it is time to turn over the evidence, to ask for a protective order is beyond disingenuous…” “It’s as if she wants to do everything to make sure our clients do not get a fair trial.”

“Nobody would know anything but the state and the defense, so they would totally hide it from the public,” he added. “If your case is as good as you said it was, why don’t you just show the evidence?”

“You can’t holler and say, ‘I’m about accountability for the citizens,’ and then run around filing for a protective order.”

An autopsy report – a document often but not always released to the public – would shed light on how Freddie Gray was injured in the back of a police paddy wagon on his way to booking and why he died in the hospital on April 19 – a week after his arrest.

The question everyone is asking, including the news media, is why all the secrecy?

Why is Mosby, who politicized the investigation and brought into question her ability to impartially investigate and prosecute the case, trying to keep the truth about what happened from leaking out?

Is it because the report would back up police accounts of how Freddie Gray was injured?

Is it because the truth would spoil the “race war storyline” that the “Rev.” Al Sharpton wrote for her – a storyline that Mosby endorsed from her bully pulpit despite the fact that Baltimore has a “minority majority” police department and that three of the officers accused in the death are black?

To lay these questions to rest, Gene Ryan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 sent a letter to Mosby asking her to recuse herself from the investigation and appoint a “Special Independent Prosecutor” in the Freddie Gray case.

In his letter, Ryan writes:

“I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case.”

“These conflicts include your personal and professional relations with Gray family attorney, William Murphy, and the lead prosecutor’s connections with members of the local media…” “Based on several nationally televised interviews, these reporters are likely to be witnesses in any potential litigation regarding this incident.”

“Most importantly, it is clear that your husband’s political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation…”

“In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed.”

The letter continued:

“We recognize that there are many dimensions to this situation: the public sentiments – on all sides; the investigation being conducted by your office; the internal police investigation; and a necessary review of the tools, equipment, and resources afforded to Baltimore police officers in order to carry out their sworn duty as police officers.”

The letter also states that the officers involved in the case are “sincerely saddened by Mr. Gray’s passing” adding:

“They are all committed police officers who have dedicated their careers to the Baltimore City Police Department…” “And that has been lost in all of the publicity. All death is tragic. And death associated with interaction with police is both shocking and frightening to the public.”

“Each of the officers diligently balanced their obligations to protect Mr. Gray and discharge their duties to protect the public,” the letter states. “I have full faith in your professional integrity.

While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case.”

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Two Baltimore correctional officers were charged with theft and two counts of burglary this week in the looting of a downtown convenience store last month during the Baltimore riots – unrest that was sparked by the police custody death of Freddie Gray, according to a statement released by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS).

The officers were identified as Tamika Cobb and Kendra Richard.

Investigators with DPSCS Intelligence and Investigative Division, acting on a tip, obtained a video posted on YouTube allegedly showing the pair participating in the looting of closed 7-Eleven convenience store on the corner of W. Baltimore and Howard streets on April 25 – the first night of riots.

The officers were both assigned to the downtown Baltimore Division of Correction facility and were placed on unpaid leave since the charges against them included felonies according to the DPSCS statement.

Police said the video showed Richard leaving the store holding Slim Jims and Cobb holding Tostitos chips. Police identified Richard as the woman exiting the store wearing yellow tennis shoes, black Adidas jogging pants and a jean jacket and identified Cobb leaving the store dressed in yellow shoes, blue pants and a black shirt with a large white graphic on the front.

Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen T. Moyer praised investigators saying:

“Our Intelligence and Investigative Division did an outstanding job, immediately following-up on this tip. We will not allow the vast majority of our employees who are honest and hardworking to be tainted by the actions of a few.”

Neither Cobb nor Richard had attorneys listed in court records. Both officers were processed at Central Booking. Bail was set at $35,000 each.

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The Baltimore riots are occurring in the face of failed political and police leadership and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake should resign, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton writes in a social media posting that is being echoed by dozens nationwide.

In the Twitter posting Fitton links a disturbing local newspaper report with graphic photos of a burning car, police clad in riot gear and masked looters. “Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames,” the article opens. “As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns. About 10 p.m., police confirmed shots were fired at an officer in the area of Virginia Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake essentially granted permission to riot by publicly stating that she instructed Baltimore Police to allow protestors to express themselves and that “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” A local media outlet published the mayor’s controversial comments, delivered at a televised press conference, in its entirety: “I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” Rawlings-Blake said. “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”

The violence unfolded after the weekend funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody. On the night of the funeral the man’s mother made a plea for peace that fell on deaf ears. By Monday the city looked like a war torn country. Maryland’s governor declared a state of emergency and National Guard troops were deployed to Baltimore City Hall. Around 500 guardsmen are helping Baltimore’s overwhelmed law enforcement agency and the number will increase to 2,000, according to a national news report that cites a National Guard Lieutenant Colonel. A citywide curfew has also been issued for at least a week and Baltimore public schools closed. After essentially endorsing the violence, Rawlings-Blake said “I’m at a loss for words,” evidently referring to the rampage that has destroyed her beloved city. She went on to say “I understand anger, but what we’re seeing isn’t anger, it’s destruction of a community.”

What did the mayor, who has a law degree, think would happen after telling raucous protesters that her city government would give those who wished to destroy the space to do it? What an absurd message for a city leader to deliver to a pumped-up crowd on the verge of unleashing violent anger. No wonder Fitton’s call for her resignation on social media has received widespread support. One response to the posting said the mayor is definitely sleeping on the job and that she missed an opportunity to show great leadership. Another points out that Rawlings-Blake is claiming the press misunderstood what she said when the reality is that she was clearly quoted.



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