BALTIMORE- There are some predictable things in my hometown: Downtown crowds will drown their woes in beer after the Orioles major league team has a bad night. Baltimore Ravens football fans will paint their faces purple and black, donning like colored wigs to show support for the NFL team and sharing deep hatred for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise up the road. And the mainstream media will attack any political leader who veers from the script to address issues of justice for Black people.
While the first two sureties may be limited to Charm City, such media assaults are not limited to Baltimore but stretch across the country and have stretched across the country as White-owned and corporate media outlets pillory State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. It needs to be stopped and countered. Black folk need to tweet, tag, post, march and shout, “Hands off Marilyn J. Mosby!”
The vicious attacks and onslaught has come as a principled Black woman makes good on her campaign pledge to go after the most violent criminals in the city. The police officers’ group now hounding the prosecutor like a lynch mob, to borrow a phrase the head of the Fraternal Order of Police used to wrongly describe protestors who called for justice in the death of Freddie Gray, gave money to the Mosby campaign. What FOP leaders didn’t count on was that the state’s attorney would target criminals in white t-shirts and gangbangers in blue. Not street gang members, but rogue cops inside the city police department.
Since State’s Attorney Mosby decided to charge six officers in connection with the death of Mr. Gray, a 25-year-old Black male in a poor Black neighborhood, the local White media and the national White press have gone after her. Their assaults are based on Fraternal Order of Police bullying, tacit threats and claims charges against the officers were improper and politically motivated.
It’s interesting that in a city, state and nation where elected state’s attorneys, legislators, mayors, governors, sheriffs—and even president’s—run on tough on crime platforms that the one time a prosecutor takes a step toward justice the system is broken, unprincipled and too politicized.
So long as Black deaths were labeled justifiable homicides and brutal beatings were approved as necessary acts of police violence, none on the White side complained and the FOP has not met any charge against any officer that it can’t and won’t defend.
Media framing in this case, which is not simply presenting news but offering news with a particular slant, with a major bias and setting an agenda, cannot go unchecked. In the court of public opinion, White outlets, often with Black faces in front of cameras, are trying to create doubt or the appearance of impropriety by repeating loudly and long, the false arguments of defenders of police at all costs and by all necessary and unnecessary means.
The Fraternal Order of Police is not a neutral party, but a rabid advocate for unchecked police power. The group is willing to bludgeon into submission anyone who objects to its actions and views. According to a Baltimore newspaper report, even the local Black police officers’ group has joined FOP howling. Yet in the same article where the Vanguard Justice Society leader complains about the charges against several Black officers who failed to act to assist Mr. Gray, protect Mr. Gray in their custody and follow department procedure, he admits there are two Baltimores and two Baltimore Police Departments: One White and one Black. That admission shows White supremacy continues to work through an institution with Black managers but not under Black control. And not controlled by Blacks with an independent mindset, independent understanding, a commitment to challenge systemic White supremacy and reform an institution that was anti-Black from its inception.
If the entity was under Black control, Black officers would not have to complain about discrimination in the ranks.
But in this city with powerful White media, powerful White business and economic gatekeepers, powerful White elites and power brokers and a powerful White Fraternal Order of Police, White power, White privilege and White ownership is asserted in the face of Black managers who can be targeted and dismissed.
White analysts like Alan Dershowitz and Page Croyder, who wrote a Mosby hit piece published in the Baltimore Sun newspaper, have their knives out. Black sycophants and leprosy-White-minded-so-called-Black-journalists accept the White media analysis and focus their questions and emphasis based on the false frame. They act as if a pre-trial motion to dismiss charges is something new. It’s not. It’s a basic tactic of any lawyer trying to free a client, except Black folks whose only pre-trial advice is take a plea bargain now, whether guilty or innocent.
We need to stop, look and listen to the media narratives, question them and respond. It’s not fair and balanced when strong opponents of Ms. Mosby don’t face strong defenders of Ms. Mosby. It’s not good journalism when the state’s attorneys actions are questioned but FOP motivation, history and bias is not presented and challenged. It’s not proper when even the state’s attorney appearing at a benefit concert by Prince, aimed at highlighting injustice and trying to heal the city, is used to accuse her of grandstanding.
There is no greater grandstanding than FOP posturing and lies and Ms. Croyder’s declaration that the charges filed were either “reckless or incompetent.” Perhaps Ms. Croyder’s 20-year history with the prosecutor’s office makes her partly responsible for where things are. Did she call for holding police accountable and did she hear the wailing of victims of abuse crying for justice? Did she act?
State’s Attorney Mosby acted and laid out a clear rationale: officers failed to do their duty, showed callous disregard for human life, a man died and officers must be held accountable.
That’s the story and we need to stick to it. Hands off Marilyn J. Mosby!