The acquittal of Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero on Monday May 23 of all charges related to the death of Freddie Gray brought a swift response from Baltimore Bloc and other civil rights groups. After a five-day bench trial, Judge Barry Williams acquitted Nero in the death of Gray, the 25-year-old Black man who died April 19, 2015 after complications related to spinal injuries. Nero was charged with a total of four misdemeanors including second degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.
The prosecutor, Gray’s family and their attorney, along with community members and allies, argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray unjustly, and that he recklessly endangered Gray’s life by putting him in the police wagon without a seat belt. Baltimore Bloc is a grassroots coalition of families, communities and allies committed to fighting for equity and justice in Baltimore.
In a statement in conjunction with the Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization, Baltimore Bloc called the verdict “upsetting, but not at all surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to police brutality cases all over the country or to anyone who has been paying attention to Marilyn Mosby’s office.” The group said Mosby’s office did not “seek justice” for Freddie Gray because it would upset the status quo and risk “her office’s relationship with the corrupt and brutal Baltimore Police Department.”
“The policies, practices and culture of ‘rough rides,’ ‘jump outs’ and ‘stop and frisk’ that allow police brutality to happen must be ended. The power and privilege of the badge is being distorted by a slew of acquittals of law enforcement officers for killing Black people. Law enforcement officers must be held accountable for their actions. The duty to protect and serve is requires that they value the humanity of Black people.”
The first of six officers involved with the case, William Porter, was released after his December trial ended in a hung jury. The next trial in the case will be that of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, the driver of the van used to transport Gray. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).