On Wednesday jurors could not reach a unanimous decision on any of the charges filed against Porter and a mistrial was declared. Due to a well-documented history of police officers getting off for crimes committed while in uniform, many observers expected shenanigans-and that’s what we got.
Shenanigans. We knew this before Officer William Porter ever went to trial. Though many kept a close eye on the proceedings others ignored it as another example of institutionalized racism being revisited for the umpteenth time with inevitably disappointing results. Bombarded by the negligent manner in which American justice is shelled out whenever law enforcement stands accused, sometimes the ability to compartmentalize emotions by any means becomes a psychological necessity.
In April, Freddie Gray’s spine was fractured and his neck broken while in the custody of six Baltimore police officers. The report they collective filed stated the entire affair occured without force or incident. However, circumstantial evidence revealed something contrary to the official story.
Primary amongst that cache of evidence was the medical examiner ruling Gray’s death as a homicide.
After days of peaceful protesting violence eventually erupted and Baltimore became a city under siege by the fed up and disenfranchised. On May 1, Baltimore Chief Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby indicted six officers on a range of charges that included murder and manslaughter.
People cheered and celebrated at word of the indictment but those expecting a swift and complete victory probably aren’t schooled on exactly how institutionalized racism works.
Officer Porter’s role, say prosecutors, was his dereliction in notifying the driver as to Gray’s condition during multiple stops in route to the police station-the distance to which is only seven blocks but took 45 minutes on that fateful day. Gray became injured while in the van. This part everyone agrees on.
Prosecutors say an ambulance should have been called sooner and say he should have been buckled in. That may have been difficult considering Freddie Gray was placed in leg-irons and handcuffed with his hands behind his back. His inherent vulnerability is horrifying, his subsequent death lead to the indictment. Porter was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Who is to defend those society deems indefensible?
Self-defense is an ancient instinct. But when Blacks defend themselves it usually is ruled as being against the law. In an effort to remain law-abiding, sane Americans many would rather trick themselves into apathy rather than face the spectre of impudence and irrelevance in the face of abuse. Even though one’s mind may seethe and churn at yet another injustice against black folks going unpunished, feigned apathy for an artificial peace of mind might seem like a fair tradeoff. It's not.
Apathy is inaction and inaction is tantamount to acceptance.
Mostly, the legal system has proven unwilling or unable to convict rogue cops so poor Black males are left to their own devices. Many of which lay outside of the legal system (riots).
The Gray family thanked jurors and pleaded for calm in the city following the hung jury.
The social sphere was lit with digital activists, literal activists and left-leaning journalists reporting the blow-by-blow of Porter’s trial from the very beginning. However, a significant number would rather yawn and press the snooze button than rise to the challenge of striking down every instance of institutionalized racism in the system-law enforcement in particular. It is clear that revolution of ideas, compassion and camaraderie are needed. But a predator prey cycle is nearly impossible to break in any circumstance.
Freddie Gray’s stepfather Richard Shipley said this in a statement;
"We thank this hard-working jury for their service to the public, their quest for justice, their personal sacrifice of their time and effort. We are not at all upset with them, neither should the public be upset. They did the best that they could," he said.
"We are hopeful that Mosby will retry Officer Porter as soon as possible, and that his next jury will reach a verdict. Once again, we ask the public to remain calm and patient, because we are confident there will be another trial with a different jury. We are calm; you should be calm, too."
All six officers remain suspended without pay.
Even though he is a Black man, Porter is shielded by a fraternal blue line that has hunted, terrorized, beaten and killed innocent Black people from its very inception in the antiquity of America. Put plainly, he ain't black no more. He's blue. That extra, seemingly unconstitutional layer of protection has resulted in the acquittals of officers in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Iowa, Georgia and Texas over the past two months alone on charges that stemmed from the excessive use of deadly force. Many of those victims were white. Now, if a cop can kill a white citizen and get away with it then prosecuting officers who kill Black people is a daunting task. No amount of tea-sipping will change that.
On Thursday Baltimore City Court Judge Barry Williams, prosecutors and defense attorneys failed to agree on a new trial. At this point it is still unclear whether or not one will take place at all.