It took three formidable black women to lead the quest for justice for Freddie Gray.
Coincidence or serendipity?
Marilyn Mosby, the 35-year-old Baltimore City prosecutor, made the unexpected announcement last week that six Baltimore police officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray, 25, a Black man who died from a severed spine on April 19 while in police custody.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, 45, is an outspoken voice for criminal justice reform and judicial fairness for African-American men.
And Loretta Lynch, 55, the newly-appointed U.S. Attorney General –and the first Black woman to hold the position — promised a Justice Department investigation into Gray’s death on her second day on the job.
“If, with the nation watching, three Black women at three different levels can’t get justice and healing for this community, you tell me where we’re going to get it in our country,” she asked.
I read a Twitter post last week by a woman who said she couldn’t understand why Black citizens praised Mosby just for doing her job. Mosby, who has gained national notoriety as the youngest prosecutor in a major American city, was courageous in bringing charges against the police officers even as police union officials implied that she overcharged the officers and called for her to recuse herself.
She won’t recuse herself – and she shouldn’t.
The reason Black folks were cheering in the streets of Baltimore after Mosby’s announcement was because Black citizens across the country are so accustomed to police officers evading criminal charges after killing Black men and women that when cops are actually charged with crimes against Blacks, it comes as a complete shock to the system.
Mosby, who is only four months into the job, didn’t ignore the crisis, she confronted it head-on. Gray, she said, shouldn’t even have been arrested.
The most serious charges were brought against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who was driving the van that carried Mr. Gray to a police station after his April 12 arrest. Along with involuntary manslaughter, Officer Goodson, 45, was charged with “second-degree depraved heart murder.”
“To the people of Baltimore and demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘No justice, No peace,'” Mosby said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”
The long journey for justice for Freddie Gray starts now and three black women are on a mission with Mosby leading the legal movement.
“To the rank-and-file officers of the Baltimore City police department, please know that these accusations of these six officers are not an indictment on the entire force,” Mosby said. “I come from five generations of law enforcement. My father was an officer; my mother was an officer; several of my aunts and uncles. My recently departed and beloved grandfather was one of the founding members of the first Black police organization in Massachusetts.”
Meanwhile, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich told Fox News that “justice is blind” and implied that Mosby was only interested in justice for Black people. Ehrlich also said he was concerned about more rioting once the officers are put on trial.
Ehrlich’s comment comes as a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll on Monday shows that Americans are bracing for a summer of racial disturbances around the country after the riots in Baltimore last week. The poll showed that 96% of adults surveyed said it was likely there would be additional racial disturbances this summer and underscored the deep racial divide about why the urban violence started.
So while Americans continue to sort out their racial differences, three no-nonsense African American women in top leadership roles are positioned at this moment in history to investigate how Freddie Gray died in police custody, following the evidence wherever it leads, and bringing closure to a family in grief.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.