A judge ruled today that statements made by Baltimore Police Sgt. Alicia D. White, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the April death of Freddie Gray, will be admissible for use in her trial. White’s attorney had petitioned that the statements be suppressed, claiming without intentional irony that White’s rights were violated during an interrogation by the Baltimore Police Department.
Living black in a world formed from the crucible of anti-black slavery imposes many moments of visceral absurdity, leaving you in a vast fissure between hysterical laughter, unstoppable streams of tears, and rage hot enough to burn a body. But what body should burn? The end of April imposed a moment on me that made this question easy to answer.
Last week, while visiting a liberal arts college in Oakland, I sat on a small couch and listened to the only white male on a panel boast at least three times that he’s “never been qualified for any of the jobs” he’s had. He laughed and chuckled at his dumb luck. The white woman beside him bragged, “I haven’t interviewed for a job in twenty years.” After the third comment, I exchanged glances with friends, reflecting our shared concern over the repeated statements. The white man slouched in his chair as he spoke to a room of women writers—some of color, of varied shades, and some who shared his complexion. This white man, the owner of a publishing house, wore his ignorance in his smile, while we burned in our seats.
According to a police report obtained by the Guardian, Brian Rice, the most senior Baltimore police officer charged over the death of Freddie Gray, used his position as a lieutenant in the Baltimore Police Department to demand that police in a nearby city arrest his ex-girlfriend’s husband. Earlier reports indicate that Rice had previously threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and her husband and to commit suicide.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch just announced a federal civil rights investigation into the Baltimore police department in response to the death of Freddie Gray. A similar investigation by the DOJ into the Ferguson police department uncovered systematic racism and well-documented examples of police brutality.