On the day of the funeral of Freddie Gray, who was brutally murdered by Baltimore police, the police are dressed in riot gear, shields, guns, tear gas, batons, tasers and armored trucks at the ready to wage war against the African American men, women and children along with their sympathizers and funeral attendees. The killing of Freddie Gray, along with the many other Black men, women and children who perished at the hands of police across the nation have swelled into a national disgrace. Despite his brutal murder, Freddie Gray may have died a Martyr.
Protest marches have taken place in Baltimore and around the country since the murder of twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray. The citizens have asked for the arrests of the officers involved and have received just the usual reply that the police will do an investigation of themselves. Freddie Gray on April 12, 2015 was killed by police in Baltimore, Maryland when they tackled him; put a knee on his spine; bent his head back and put handcuffs on him according to witnesses. Police dragged him to the police van flopping like a rag doll. According to reports he was given a rough and long ride where he was thrown into a van, not buckled in and banged around in the steel-lined van as the driver drove fast, stopped short, went over every bump in the street and picked up other so-called prisoners. The van was stopped several times to further abuse Gray severing his spine and neck and shackling his feet. He lapsed into a coma with 80 percent of his spinal cord severed and his voice box crushed. What kind of animals could do this to a person?
Part of the reason for the community unrest is that no reason was given for Freddie Grays’ arrest, abuse and murder. He had not broken any laws. He was reported to have made eye contact with the police and ran. During slavery it was a violation for an African American to look a white person or person of authority in the eye and of course you could not run. You could be whipped or killed for such violations.
Freddie Gray may be considered a martyr. His death has served to bring to the attention of the world the many violations against African Americans especially Black males, who are sometimes forced to lower their pants and have their private areas exposed, fondled and searched by cops or to slam pregnant Black women to the ground just for harassment or hate. Freddie Gray brought to light the marginalization of Black people. The denial of proper housing and the opportunity to live where you want. All of this has been exposed. Freddie Gray brought to light for the world to see the denial of a fair and equal education, the denial of equal employment even though you have more education and experience than your boss and the lack of a voice to be heard because you are Black.
A martyr is a person who suffers persecution or death for advocating or refusing to advocate or renounce a belief.
Freddie Gray brought to light the victimization of Blacks and the poor by CVS stores. The media focused on the CVS store that was burned located in the marginalized, blighted African American community, where only poor people live who have no money or jobs. CVS stores has one of the highest pharmacy prices in the country; is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States; and is the 12th largest company in the world according to Fortune 500. In addition, CVS has a history of taking advantage of the poor. A Federal Discrimination lawsuit has been filed against CVS for racist practices in New Jersey (ABCnews). In 2011 DEA investigators served a warrant to a CVS pharmacy in Sanford, Florida on October 18, 2011 stating “approximately every third car that came through the drive-thru lane had prescriptions for oxycodone or hydrocodone” (USA). On May 8, 2010, a homeless man, Anthony Kyser, was strangled to death by CVS store manager after allegedly stealing toothpaste and crayons (HuffingtonPost). They settled lawsuits for deceptive business practices including drug switching (SanFranciscoChronicle). Prescription errors often occur (ABCnews) and they have HIPPA violations (HHs.gov). The community may be better off without CVS.
Freddie Gray’s death initiated an alliance between the Nation of Islam, Black Guerilla Family, Bloods and Crips. Traditionally, gangs have come together for self-help and protection. Those who banded together in groups of like-minded people found it beneficial to operate in groups rather than individually. Gangs usually consist of people who are or have been marginalized by the majority. As a result of Freddie Gray’s death the spoke persons from the Bloods, Crips, Black Guerilla Family and the religious group Nation of Islam announced that they have teamed-up to march together against police brutality and “Justice for Freddie”.
Freddie Gray’s death caused pause in America’s National past time for the first time ever. The Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox game will be played to an empty audience in Baltimore’s Camden Yards. The General Manager wanted to make clear that the Baltimore Orioles wanted to be sensitive to the unrest that is going on in Baltimore, so the game will be played with no audience. I applaud this decision. It would indeed be insensitive to play a game in the middle of so many people hurting. Well done Orioles!
A martyr loses their earthly life in order to bring about change, reveal truth and bring people together for peace and justice. Freddie Gray’s death has done just that. Please include your story of how Freddie Gray has touched your life.