On the arrests in Baltimore

A few thoughts on the news of the day:

1)The most striking thing to me about today’s announcement was the statement that Freddie Gray was innocent of any crime – that police had no probable cause to arrest him, the knife he carried was legal, and, by implication, that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office would not have prosecuted Gray even if he survived unharmed.

2) Further to that, the six officers charged at best committed bad police work. Hence the misconduct in office charges against all six officers and false imprisonment charges against the senior officer involved. If there are convictions on these charges, police departments across America should take notice.

3) I doubt most of these charges don’t happen if the medical examiner hadn’t returned a finding of homicide.

4) Does anyone in Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police understand the definition and purpose of “crisis management?”

5) Seriously, the FOP’s implication that Mosby’s marriage to a city councilman is a conflict of interest reads like a petty, ad hominum attack (at best) and makes it harder to take their other accusation of conflict (re: the Gray family’s lawyer) seriously, nevermind its strange comments about conflicts of interest in local media coverage. If they’re trying to win public support, this isn’t the way to do it.

6) While there may be some merit to the FOP’s conflict accusations re: the Gray family’s lawyer, I doubt the conflict is serious enough for Mosby to have to recuse herself from this case. To accept the argument that donating to a prosecutor’s political campaign and/or serving on a transition team affords one special treatment by her office would, to me, imply that much of the American justice system is unbelievably open to corruption.

7) What’s more, if Mosby hadn’t laid charges, people would have cried that her family’s long history in policing as a conflict, just as protesters did when indictment failed in the Michael Brown case.

8) The conflict accusations, however, remind me how flawed the idea of judicial and prosecutorial elections is. It leaves open much more possibility for corruption and the perversion of justice than simple judicial appointment.

9) The officers charged have not been found guilty of any crime. They will have their day in court, which seems to be the least anybody on the streets of Baltimore City wanted from this case. They are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which they are accused. This is not the end of this story, merely a beginning.

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