The Accused Baltimore Dirty Six
Historical racism in the United States has so devalued Black lives that some African Americans have developed intense self-hatred and believe that Black lives are somehow less worthy than Whites folks’.
Consider the criminal actions of the three African American police officers –Caesar Goodson, William Porter, and Sgt. Alicia White– of the Baltimore Police Department who have been brought up on various charges together with three White officers in connection with the death of 25-year-old African American, Freddie Gray.
From the very beginning Freddie Gray, who was illegally arrested on April 12, was in medical distress.
He asked for an inhaler –his request was ignored– even as officers loaded him into the van. He was never secured with a belt which was a departmental violation of policy. It’s also possible that his back was already broken by that point, as the only videos of his arrest show he was already crying in intense pain.
Is it possible that the three Black officers participated in the conspiracy to cover up the mortal injury inflicted upon Freddie Gray because of fear of retaliation from their commanding officers and self-hatred as well?
This of course doesn’t lessen their culpability; maybe they’re even worthy of heavier punishment.
Would three Black officers engage in the kind of torture inflicted on Gray had he been a White male with a severed spine by allowing him to sustain or aggravate his injury with the “rough ride” and denying him access to medical care? Or would they be unable to engage in such depraved torture because they would see the White male as a human being and rebel against the injustice?
It’s hard to imagine any circumstance whereby White police officers could ever chase an unarmed White individual, severe his spinal cord and deny him access to medical treatment for at least 40 minutes, and allow him to have cardiac arrest and lapse into a coma from which he never recovers.
But for argument’s sake, let’s place a White man in the position in which the three White police officers placed Freddie Gray on April 12: with a severed spinal cord, and handcuffed and shackled and in the back of a police transport van.
Would the three African American officers have participated in the heinous and barbaric criminal conduct — ignoring a White man’s need for life-saving medical intervention? It’s hard to believe that they would have agreed: their better instincts and sense of humanity might have inspired them to rebel and demand that the person dying in the back of the van be rushed to a hospital.
So could it be that their self-hatred enabled them to ignore the humanity of Freddie Gray and participate in his torture by also ensuring that he be deprived of speedy medical attention? This is not to suggest that it might not have been too late to save his life anyway.
Let’s review the actions allegedly committed by the six officers variously charged with crimes, including the three African Americans.
The three officers involved in the chase of Freddie Gray on April 12 were all White, according to media reports and are: Lt. Brian Rice and officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller. Lt. Rice already has a checkered record of threatening to kill another man in separate incidents and allegedly texting him sexually explicit messages.
The police van that arrived to transport Freddie Gray was driven by Officer Caesar Goodson, who is African American.
It took reportedly more than 40 minutes from the time Rice, Nero and Miller illegally arrested Gray to when he was transported to the police station — even though he should have been rushed to a hospital.
According to the Maryland State’s Prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, who announced charges against the six officers, during one of the four stops Lt. Rice ordered Goodson to make before the van reached the police station, Gray was removed from the van and was placed in leg shackles by Rice, Nero and Miller and then returned into the van.
It’s unclear at this point whether any further injuries were intentionally inflicted upon Gray by the three White officers.
It’s also unclear what occurred during two other stops.
By the time of the fourth stop, according to the State’s prosecutor, it was clear that Gray was mortally wounded.
Which raises questions about the motives behind the fourth stop.
In an earlier column, I argued that the multiple stops were designed to maximize the delay in getting medical attention for Freddie Gray. I now propose that in additional to the designed delays, the fourth stop also served another sinister and macabre purpose.
Another prisoner was picked up at that fourth stop — the final stop before the van ultimately reached the police station.
Since Goodson, Rice, Nero and Miller were already with Gray before the final stop, it’s reasonable to believe that the second prisoner who was brought into the van had been in the custody of the two additional officers charged with crimes by the prosecutor; meaning Porter and Sgt. White, both of whom were African Americans.
During the fourth stop, according to the State’s Prosecutor, Goodson, the Black officer driving the van, and Sgt. White and Officer Porter, both African Americans, observed Freddie Gray, in the back of the van and tried to communicate with him but realized he was unresponsive.
Yet the van was still not diverted to a hospital but continued to the police station.
Is it possible that the arresting officers, Lt. Rice and Officers Nero and Miller (with the ranking officer Lt. Rice in command), wanted to make sure that the three African American officers, by observing Gray’s condition yet raising no objection, also became a part of the conspiracy so that Freddie Gray’s ultimate death could not be blamed on police racism?
After all, the two African Americans who came at the later stage, Sgt. White and Officer Porter, together with driver Goodson, all pretended as if they did not realize that Gray needed life-saving emergency assistance. They all participated in the sham — to proceed with Gray to the police station for his booking.
Upon arrival at the police station their hoax could no longer continue. Gray, was already in cardiac arrest and unconscious. He was taken to a hospital, he never recovered from his coma and he died on April 19.
It seems these pathetic desperados even tried to blame Gray for his own death, getting the second person arrested to say that he tried to “hurt” himself, when in fact he was practically dead and they “leaked” the spin to the obliging Washington Post, hungry for a scoop. Clearly not The Washington Post of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
Ironically, Goodson, the Black driver, faces the most serious charges, second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for allegedly driving the van in such a manner as to cause the kind of motion that would either cause or aggravate Gray’s spinal injury.
Facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, and misconduct in office, are: Lt. Rice, Sgt. White, and Officer Porter.
Officers Nero and Miller who made the arrest of Freddie Gray face second-degree assault and misconduct in office charges.
Yes, police culture and the so-called “blue wall of silence” is an obstacle to weeding out police criminal conduct against civilians.
It’s also compounded by the pervasive racism that has so devalued the lives of Black people that causes even Black officers, like Sgt. White and officers Goodson and Porter, to engage in depraved cruelty against other Black people.
We saw manifestation of this depraved indifference to the fate of Black victims by other Black officers in a few recent hight profile cases.
In North Charleston, South Carolina, on April 4, after Michael Slager shot Walter Scott from behind –firing eight times and hitting him five times including with a bullet through his heart– the first additional officer to arrive on the scene was an African American, Clarence W. Habersham Jr.
Habersham observed Slager return to the spot from where he had fired at Scott, pick up a Taser, come back to where the body lay, and plant this phony evidence next to the dead man.
Yet the Black officer went along with the criminal conduct, not challenging Slager on the spot — as the video clearly shows– or later, when they returned to the police station and Slager filed his false report about the encounter, claiming he had feared for his life, causing him to fire at Scott.
There were several African American officers on the scene, including a supervising officer, who did not challenge Pantaleo on his conduct, or attempt to provide Garner with life-saving intervention.
So in addition to fighting criminal police conduct against African Americans, which is often promoted, encouraged, and condoned by the civilian governments –as we saw in Ferguson where police wrote phony violations for alleged crimes by Black people that never occurred in order to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the City– we must also fight the internalized self-hatred of African American officers on Police departments throughout the U.S.
African American officers must stand up and say enough is enough to criminal violence against Black civilians by police officers.
By liberating their minds from internalized self-hatred Black officers will be able to free police departments from the culture and practice that allows abuse and criminality against African American civilians to continue.