Hundreds of demonstrators hold a rally and march to protest against police brutality and the death of Freddie Gray, in front of the City Hall of Baltimore, Maryland, the United States, April 25, 2015. Protests continued for days in Baltimore against the overuse of police force surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, in local police van. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
Hundreds of demonstrators hold a rally and march to protest against police brutality and the death of Freddie Gray, in front of the City Hall of Baltimore, Maryland, the United States, April 25, 2015. Protests continued for days in Baltimore against the overuse of police force surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, in local police van. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

While criminal charges against the six Baltimore police officers involved in the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, brought joy to a city that was still recovering from recent riots, protesters vowed that their fight for justice was not over.

Hundreds of demonstrators hold a rally and march to protest against police brutality and the death of Freddie Gray, in front of the City Hall of Baltimore, Maryland, the United States, April 25, 2015. Protests continued for days in Baltimore against the overuse of police force surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, in local police van. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
Hundreds of demonstrators hold a rally and march to protest against police brutality and the death of Freddie Gray, in front of the City Hall of Baltimore, Maryland, the United States, April 25, 2015. Protests continued for days in Baltimore against the overuse of police force surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, in local police van. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

In a surprising announcement Friday morning, Maryland state attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby said charges would be filed against all six Baltimore police officers involved in Gray’s death, which was ruled by medical examiners as a homicide.
“Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD (Baltimore Police Department) wagon,” Mosby said. “We have probable cause to file criminal charges.”
Shortly after the state prosecutor’s announcement, city residents found themselves unexpectedly rejoicing even though Baltimore officials, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, both African-Americans, had earlier tried hard to downplay the public’s expectations that any charges against the six police officers would be presented Friday.
As Baltimore was preparing itself for the fourth day of a city-wide curfew after Monday’s rioting that had seen 144 cars and 15 buildings set on fire, and stores looted, protesters matched through the city, shouting “Justice for Freddie!” amid a joyous chorus of car honking, music and cheers.
Unlike the past four days, most people were smiling while protesting.
“The difference of today is that the officers are actually being charged with the murder (of Freddie Gray). So it’s more (about celebration for) justice today,” said Stephanie Brooks, an African-American woman who stood beside a road in West Baltimore, Gray’s former neighborhood.
Brooks said it had been uncertain whether those six officers would be charged till Friday morning, adding that people were celebrating because the first step toward justice for 25-year-old Gray had been taken.
However, she said people still wanted to make sure that the officers would get indicted “based on the crime they’ve committed.”
“I am a mother of a black son as well. And I don’t want it to happen to anybody’s son,” she said.
“I’m also celebrating that these people’s voice, the minorities, are being treated fairly and they are being recognized by the majority,” a white man told Xinhua.
Yet despite Friday’s joy, protesters vowed their fight for justice for Gray was not over yet.
In Ferguson and New York last year, local grand juries decided against indicting the officers who were involved in the deaths of two unarmed black men. Their decisions triggered protests nationwide.
Friday’s charges included a second-degree depraved-heart murder against police van driver officer Caesar Goodson, who, according to the state prosecutor, ignored Gray’s pleas for medical assistance at least on two occasions during transportation.
“Despite stopping for the purpose of checking on Mr. Gray’s condition, at no point did (the van driver officer Caesar Goodson) seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray,” Mosby said. “Officer Goodson returned to his driver’s seat and proceeded toward the central booking and intake facility with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt.”
Mosby said that on one of the stops, Gray “requested help and indicated that he could not breathe” as officers were checking his status.
Upon arrival at a police station, Gray was no longer breathing, Mosby said.
The other five officers were charged with crimes including assault, manslaughter and false imprisonment, the prosecutor said.
“No one is above the law in our city,” Rawlings-Blake told reporters. “To those of you who wish to engage in brutality, misconduct, racism and corruption, let me be clear: There is no place in the Baltimore City Police Department for you.”
In response to charges against the six police officers, the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement Friday that “each of the officers diligently balanced their obligations to protect Mr. Gray and discharged their duties to protect the public.”
The statement also called for an independent prosecutor to the Gray case because of the leading prosecutor Mosby’s “personal and professional relations with the Gray family attorney, William Murphy.”
According to Baltimore’s daily newspaper The Baltimore Sun, Murphy supported Mosby during her campaign last year and donated 5,000 U.S. dollars to her campaign. Murphy also served on Mosby’s transition committee.
While refusing to comment directly on the legal process, U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that it was “absolutely vital that the truth comes out.”
“What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth,” Obama said after the announcement of charges. “That’s what people around the country expect.”
“Justice needs to be served,” he said.

Source: Xinhua

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