Recent Developments in Baltimore: The Stakes Are Still High


July 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Things in Baltimore have been deceptively “quiet” over the past two months since the powerful uprising on April 27 and its aftermath. But just beneath the surface, various forces are in motion and in conflict, and the developing situation could spark new eruptions of struggle.

On May 1, Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced that six of the cops who brutally killed Freddie Gray would be prosecuted. Over and over again, we’ve seen prosecutors across the U.S. refuse to put killer cops on trial, even when medical examiners rule that a Black man’s death at the hands of police was “homicide.” So why did Mosby come down with those indictments? Carl Dix pointed out what was behind that: “This is not their system working. This is their system showing its fear of you. They saw you stand up. They saw you saying ‘not this time.’ They hear you saying ‘no more.’ So they said, ‘Well, maybe we should indict and maybe they’ll go home and maybe they’ll forget about it.’”(“Statement of Carl Dix on Uprising in Baltimore”), Mosby’s office essentially confirmed this recently: “By charging six police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby restored order to Baltimore ‘before the entire city became an armed camp or was burned to the ground,’ her office argues in a new court filing.” (Baltimore Sun, June 24, 2015)

Cops’ Non-Appearance in Court, and Motion for Change of Venue

July 2 was supposed to have been the date that the six cops would appear in court, hear their charges formally presented, and enter their plea. But there was the prospect that this would be a lightning rod for the police, who would be rallying their supporters, including many who make no secret of their hatred for Black people, AND those who would want to confront them and carry forward the fight to indict, convict and send the killer cops to jail. Powerful forces have been working to chill things out in Baltimore this summer, and such a confrontation could have instead inflamed the righteous anger of the people. So a highly unusual step was arranged for the cops to receive the charges and present their pleas privately through their lawyers a week earlier.

When it was announced that there would be no public court appearance by the cops, it was also revealed that their trial is to start on October 13, with a judge to hear and decide pre-trial motions on September 2. Among the motions is one to change the location of the trial away from Baltimore. If that motion is granted, it could have enormous repercussions. Back in 1992, in the highly publicized case where the vicious police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles was captured on video and seen by millions, the trial of the cops was moved out of Los Angeles to an almost all-white suburb of Simi Valley, where the jury acquitted the cops of all charges.

Powerful forces are pushing to have the trial of these cops moved out of Baltimore with the same objective of finding a judge and jury who would acquit the cops of all serious charges. People need to be prepared and mobilized to act in the face of such an outrage.

Gearing Up for the “Fire Next Time” and Attacking the Uprising

Clearly, those in power anticipate that the cops could well be let off or given a mere slap on the wrist and are preparing for that. Reflecting that, on July 1, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced that Baltimore police will be equipped with new riot gear, saying, “Specifically, I want to make sure our officers are prepared should there be additional unrest following the verdicts in the Freddie Gray case.” (Baltimore Sun, July 1, 2015)

On the same day, police arrested Raymond Carter, claiming he set fire to the West Baltimore CVS store in the middle of the uprising on April 27. Nobody should accept as truth what the police and government officials claim about anybody’s role in the uprising. In announcing the arrest, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts slandered this young man, saying, “He is a criminal that took advantage of our city when we were most vulnerable.” This is part of the efforts to portray those people who were part of the uprising as “criminals” (or “thugs,” as Obama said). In fact, what happened in Baltimore was a powerful and beautiful uprising involving thousands of people standing together in courage, defying physical and legal dangers. The people were out there to make it unmistakably clear that there MUST be justice.

Batts’ “post-riot task force” has gone through thousands of hours of videotape and other surveillance data, and 12 adults and seven juveniles have been arrested so far. Batts promised more: “For those who have destroyed our stores, who have thrown rocks at our officers, we’re coming.” This demands a strong response from everyone who wants to see justice for Freddie Gray and the killer cops convicted and sent to jail: ALL those arrested for participating in the uprising need to be defended. We cannot allow the police or anyone else to divide those who came together in the uprising, targeting some as “thugs” and “criminals.” Fighting against murder by police is not a crime. There must be AMNESTY for ALL protesters against police terror.

As said in May, after the uprising, there are very high stakes in what happens in Baltimore.

[T]here are even higher stakes for the oppressed and those who hate oppression, and for the revolutionaries leading the fight against that oppression. High stakes in mobilizing people to fight through and win this battle... and far higher stakes in bringing to people the word that there IS a solution to this, that revolution is possible, and that emancipation from this madness can be achieved, and in organizing people to carry forward that revolution. Will this opening be seized to bring forward the work that Bob Avakian has done on this very question, and the leadership that he has provided? Will those who ARE stepping forward to this be organized in a way that can lead to an ACTUAL revolution? Will this be done in a way that enables people to go up against all the repression that will be brought down on them as they do so? And, in that context, will the struggle for justice be fought through in such a way that it is NOT derailed, but instead strikes real blows against the ability of the powers to keep on hammering down on people, and at the same time leads people further toward revolution and emancipation? (“High Stakes in Baltimore“)

The stakes are still high, and we must mobilize people to carry forward this battle in this way, because our future depends on it.



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