Peaceful Protests In Baltimore As Freddie Gray Police Trial Starts

Photo: Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS/Getty Images.
Marilyn Mosby, the Maryland state's attorney prosecuting six police officers for the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, scored some early victories on Wednesday, a good start for her to what is certain to be a contentious trial.

At the hearing, which began Wednesday morning, Mosby and attorneys for the six officers argued over whether the charges against the officers should be dropped and whether Mosby should recuse herself. Judge Barry Williams ruled against the defense in both cases, which means the trial will go on. When proceedings resumed in the afternoon, Williams ordered six separate trials for the officers.

While lawyers argued over questions that will determine the direction of the trial, protesters and community activists gathered outside the courthouse early on Wednesday morning, the Baltimore Sun reported, and at least one person was arrested as crowds marched through the city and eventually toward police headquarters. However, there were no moments like the protests of late April, when heavily armed officers cracked down on protesters, students, and residents.

Gray died in April, one week after he was arrested. He suffered an injury that nearly severed his spinal cord under mysterious circumstances while in police custody. After his death, members of the young man's community protested the slow police response despite the existence of video that showed what appeared to be an overly harsh arrest. The officers face charges that include manslaughter and second-degree murder.

Gray's fatal detention by the police came only a few days after video surfaced of a North Charleston, SC, police officer evidently shooting an unarmed, retreating man in the back. That officer has also been charged with murder, but both that case and this one were anomalies after months of news stories in which Black men and boys were killed by police officers without legal consequences.

Defense attorneys wanted to remove Mosby from the trial, they said, because they claimed that statements she made when she announced the charges showed bias against the officers. Mosby ran for office on a platform of cleaning up police behavior and demanding accountability; she comes from a family of law-enforcement officials. Prosecutors in practically every jurisdiction routinely have close relationships with the police.

The trial of the six officers also comes after a string of deaths this summer that have kept the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements committed to change. At least five Black women have died in jail cells in the past few months, as well as many other men and women in conflicts with the police.

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