Here is my current understanding of the Baltimore power structure and how it relates to the police:
There are three levels of power: nation, state and city:
1. Nation: US (64% non-Hispanic White, 13% Black, 23% Other in 2010):
- US Constitution – the highest law in the land, or so I have been told.
- US Justice Department – has the power to review police departments. Where it finds a pattern of abuse of power, it can reform a department, from top to bottom if necessary. It has been headed by a Black person since 2009, who gave Baltimore a pass till 2014.
- Tribune Publishing – the third largest newspaper chain in the US. Based in Chicago, it owns the Baltimore Sun (see below).
2. State: Maryland (55% non-Hispanic White, 30% Black, 15% Other):
- LEOBR, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, is a Maryland state law passed in 1974. White lawmakers put it in place to block attempts by Blacks to hold the police accountable for their crimes. Among its rights:
- An officer can refuse to be questioned for up to ten days. This allows officers time to make up lies that fit the known facts.
- An officer can only be questioned by fellow officers.
- An officer is to be disciplined by a trial board – made up of fellow officers.
3. City: Baltimore (28% non-Hispanic White, 64% Black, 8% Other):
- Baltimore Sun – the main newspaper. Its board of directors is 88% White, 12% Black. In 2014, it spent six months looking into police brutality. Few would speak to it, so it went through court records. It printed its findings seven months before Freddie Gray’s death.
- The police – an army of occupation in parts of Baltimore, a law unto itself. It is 48% Black. They arrest whoever they feel like, even those who are doing nothing wrong. They have a long history of police brutality, going back to at least 1931. It got worse under Mayor Martin O’Malley in the 2000s. Now they rough up even old women. The US Constitution is a piece of toilet paper to them.
- The civilian review board – powerless.
- The mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is the head of city government. She is Black. She was a protégée of Martin O’Malley. She has been mayor since 2010, but did not ask for a US Justice Department review till 2014 – after the Baltimore Sun printed its story on police brutality. She has pushed for police body cameras and reform of LEOBR.
- The police union – protects the bad apples in its ranks. It is good at stopping any reform of LEOBR. Its president is White.
- The state’s attorney for Baltimore has been Marilyn Mosby since January 2015. She is Black. She has the power to investigate wrongdoing in the city and bring charges. Most in her position are in bed with the police, who they depend on to investigate crime. No surprise, then, that only 2% of killer cops in Maryland are charged with a crime. She is taking the Freddie Gray case to court, partly because:
- protesters – have given Mosby the political space to go after killer cops. They want LEOBR overturned. Protesters are mostly Black but many are White.
– Abagond, 2015.
- Freddie Gray
- Marilyn Mosby
- police brutality in Baltimore
- The police
- The Wire
- Bob McCulloch – Mosby’s counterpart in the Ferguson case.
- Prince George’s County – another part of Maryland with high rates of police brutality.
- About Eric Holder’s race speech – Holder was the head of the US Justice Department from 2009 to 2015.