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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 6:44 am | Fair 42º


Ron Fink: Baltimore and Freddie Gray’s Death — Has Justice Been Served?

The recent death of Freddie Gray while in police custody sparked both peaceful protests and criminal acts of violence in Baltimore last week. Was this the result of a city government run by corrupt white fat cat politicians who hired only white police officers to enforce the laws? Nope.

The city of Baltimore is predominately made up of black citizens, 99 percent of whom just want to live their lives and be left alone. It is the 1 percent of the black people who cause most of the trouble and make up more than 80 percent of the arrests in this city, for everything from stealing booze to murder.

From press reports we gather that Gray, who had a lengthy criminal record, was arrested for fleeing the police and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. We also know from video footage that he was able to stand up and enter the police van at the time of his arrest.

What we don’t know for sure is what happened between then and the time he arrived at the police station.

We do have some firsthand information from another prisoner in the same van. A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by the Washington Post.

But then, according to the Huffington Post, this same guy recanted his previous statements. So this is why we really don’t know what happened. He also said it was a “smooth ride” to the station.

So, does Baltimore have a problem?

The city has had a black mayor for decades and currently the council has nine black council members and six white members. The Police Department is and has been run by a black chief and there are a large number of black officers. So the political/policing makeup in this city is reflective of this community of more than 600,000 residents, of whom 60 percent are black.

We all witnessed the irresponsible actions of Baltimore’s mayor, who very publicly proclaimed that both peaceful protestors and those who want to destroy things should be given the space to do so. I have never heard a politician say that publicly.

Maybe the mayor will go and visit the shopkeepers and the people they employed who lost their livelihood and explain why she directed police to allow looters and arsonists some space. I am sure that they will sympathize with her strategy, but that’s not likely since their livelihood and their employees paychecks are now a thing of the past.

On the positive side, we saw the community come together and start cleaning up the mess even as the hoods were still looting and burning. This gives us hope that the community may solve the problem since they can’t count on the city government to help them.

In another instance, we saw a mother “take charge” of her son when she saw him in a hooded mask and holding a bag of goods. Although her words to him were rather crude and the very public punitive action she took could make some cringe, it still had the positive impact of removing one hoodlum from the streets that day. This lady wasn’t rich, but she took personal responsibility for her child.

From the outset of their recent troubles, Baltimore politicians and other race hustlers have incited their constituents to treat police as the enemy.

Officers are now being “challenged on the street,” according to the boots on the ground. One sergeant reported to his superiors that, “I have been to five calls today, and in three of those five calls for service I have been challenged to a fight. Some of them I blew off but one of them almost got ugly. I don’t want anybody to say that I did not tell them what is going on. This is no intel this is really what’s going on the street. This is my formal notification. It is about to get ugly.”

In the aftermath of his death and amid a highly charged political environment, the city’s police commissioner, who was appointed by the same politicians who were now calling for justice for the decedent, concluded his investigation in less than a week. There was no independent outside agency such as the Maryland State Police involved — just the locals.

Then, in less than 24 hours, the state prosecutor, who had accepted a sizable campaign contribution from the lawyer representing the deceased and was married to one of the council members who was demanding that the officers be charged, miraculously determined that six officers — three black and three white — would be charged with homicide.

Talk about a kangaroo court a la that of Justice of the Peace Roy Bean! Does anyone think that those officers can get a fair trial in Baltimore?

It’s time take a deep breath and allow some sanity to prevail, and it’s time for someone other than the biased politicians of Baltimore to weigh in on this case.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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