What Ails Baltimore? Liberalism, Corruption & Incompetence

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Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake dawdled while her city burned, let thugs run amok, then apologized for calling them “thugs.” I didn’t think it was possible for a public official to demonstrate greater unfitness for office. I was mistaken.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was in such haste to indict six Baltimore police officers for the fatal injury Freddie Gray suffered in a police van that she got the names, addresses and birth dates of two officers wrong.

Mr. Gray, who had an extensive arrest record, fled when he saw a police bike patrol. He was detained after the officers found a folding knife in his pants pocket. They handcuffed Mr. Gray, shackled his legs and loaded him into the van, but did not fasten his seat belt.

There was no probable cause because Mr. Gray’s knife was legal, Ms. Mosby said. She charged Lt. Brian Rice with involuntary manslaughter, Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero with second-degree assault. If the blade had to be pulled out manually, Mr. Gray’s knife would be legal. Both Maryland law and a city ordinance ban switchblades. The police report described Mr. Gray’s knife as “spring assisted.”

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who drove the van, is charged with second-degree murder. Officer William Porter and Sgt. Alicia White checked on Mr. Gray but didn’t call for medical assistance, Ms. Mosby said. They’re charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The charges are excessive and likely will be dismissed, said liberal law professors Alan Dershowitz of Harvard and John Banzhaf of George Washington University. The evidence indicates negligence, so Mr. Gray’s family may win a big settlement from the city in a wrongful death suit. But nothing indicates the officers intended to harm Mr. Gray.

Half of those arrested for rioting were released without charge.

“To the people of Baltimore and demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace,’ ” Ms. Mosby said when she announced the indictments. By saying that, she undermined the rule of law, wrote attorney Jack Marshall, president of ProEthics, Ltd.

“Prosecutors must not ‘hear’ demands that a citizen be prosecuted,” he said. “They are ethically obligated to ignore them and do what the evidence dictates.”

Customarily, before indictments are issued, a grand jury must find the prosecutor has enough evidence. Since jurors hear only what the prosecutor wants them to hear, grand juries almost always approve indictments. But sometimes they don’t. Ms. Mosby bypassed the grand jury, which reduced the risk her evidence would be deemed insufficient.

The indicted cops are being “thrown like red meat” to satisfy an angry mob, said Milwaukee County (Wis.) Sheriff David Clarke, a Democrat who is black.

The Gray family attorney, William Murphy, has been Ms. Mosby’s mentor and a major campaign donor. She should have recused herself, said the Fraternal Order of Police.

Ms. Mosby is married to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby, who represents black neighborhoods, “meaning that she knows that if she doesn’t indict, his career is toast. That’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Marshall wrote.

Three of the indicted officers are black. So are the police chief and most senior officers. The questionable conduct of the Baltimore police isn’t racially motivated.

Half a century ago, when black poverty was greater, there was much less violent crime in black communities, notes economist Thomas Sowell, who is black. Half a century ago, Baltimore was prosperous.

Black poverty is a symptom — not a cause — of urban decay. White racism isn’t to blame for it. What’s killing cities are the leftism, corruption and ineptitude of city “leaders.”

Baltimore is fast becoming the next Detroit because its “leaders” — most of whom are black, all of whom are Democrats — kowtow to thugs.

“You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large,” Mr. Sowell wrote. 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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