On 12-April 2015, Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested and taken into custody by police officers. Gray was caught in possession of a switchblade knife. He was transported by a police issued van. At some point while in custody and handcuffed, Gray suffered life threatening injuries to his spinal cord and larynx and a call went out to police dispatch that Gray was now being transported to the ER instead of to the police station. There is no reasonable explanation as to how or why a suspect in custody ended up with any type of physical trauma other than the fact that one or more officers had to have physically assaulted him with enough force to take down a wild animal. I say ‘wild animal’ because I suspect that the  officers involved had to have seen Grey. Furthermore, it would seem that many police officers tend to see themselves as judge, jury, and executioner–and if people chose not to believe this, then I would argue that many police officers for one reason or another; whether it be racially motivated or another type of hate crime or just the fact that many police officers feel like they have all this power and a God-complex, regardless of how they perceive themselves, because what they fail to see are ‘suspects’ as ‘human beings’ rather than as ‘wild animals!’
Despite attempts by doctors to save Gray’s life, he slipped into a coma and then died about a week later. Before people begin to blindly see me as someone who has something against police officers in general; I am Caucasian, with a BS/MS in Criminal Justice and Criminology and more than 10 years in Law Enforcement which includes investigative research and criminal profiling. I find it appalling for any police officer; regardless of their gender, gender identity, race, or ethnicity would physically harm any suspect in custody; especially one who is handcuffed and cannot defend themselves and regardless of their gender, gender identity, race, or ethnicity.
Ever since his death and even more so during the aftermath of the Baltimore riots, I have been reading in articles and from commentary on Facebook about how Freddie Gray had a long rap sheet (past arrests) for illegal drugs and stolen property and yet this is in no way any justification for police officers to lay one hand on a handcuffed suspect in custody. The reason for the rioting has nothing to do with Gray’s prior convictions but rather to use Gray’s death as a poor excuse to riot just like the Ferguson riots. While both incidents involved white police officers and suspects that happened to be a different race than the other, the difference is that with Michael Brown, he resisted arrest. Do I think that Michael Brown was racially motivated? I honestly do not know. Do I think that Officer Wilson’s shots were excessive? Absolutely. The problem is that Freddie Gray was not resisting, nor could he have been a threat to SIX police officers. I wish people would react to the merits of each incident; a police officer involved fleeing suspect and a group of police officers causing the death of a secured suspect in custody and not the race. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in. Honestly, I would associate the case of Freddy Gray with Rodney King and not Michael Brown.
If people truly wanted to protest over the death of a man in police custody, then they would march and only march or take up a petition to have the officers charged with murder or contacted a congressman or woman to speak on their behalf. They would not riot in the name of the deceased. I have no doubt that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. already tossed and turned in his grave during the Ferguson riots and God only knows now. In Selma, Dr, King led a peaceful demonstration for the right to vote by black people (then, colored). Did some people take matters into their own hands and attempt to use other means to get their point across? Yes; but this was not Dr. King’s style, nor should it be in this day and age. There is a right way to do things and then there is the Baltimore and Ferguson way. There are many residents of these two counties and nearby counties who would probably prefer to use other means of getting their point across than by rioting and mayhem. Rioting and acts of violence is the type of backlash that prevents issues of racism and/or police brutality from moving forward in preventing these types of incidents from reoccurring. We should not be living in a world where an eye-for-an-eye mentality is a means of retaliation. Retaliate by lobbying state and federal courts, senators, house of representatives, governors, etc. to make it unlawful to touch one hair on the head of a suspect already in custody; that officers need to call for backup immediately prior to shooting at a fleeing suspect who has not already shot at police. If budgets would allow it, I would suggest making it state policy for police officers to patrol with two officers per car but require them to be of different races.
Nevertheless, people should not be saying that Freddie Gray had this or that prior arrests because all that does is provide some type of justification for the actions by those six police officers; when instead, what people should be asking themselves is; “What if that was my child, brother, son, cousin, parent, friend . . . who was murdered while in police custody.