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« And Let Them Eat Cake, Too | Main | Yeah, but wouldn't it be awesome if he won anyway? »

Right message, wrong time?

Kevin Drum discusses the implications of the lead hypothesis in the case of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore police. I've been very interested in the lead theory and (while acknowledging my personal lack of scientific expertise), i agree with it. But i'm not sure leading off the post by talking about Gray's lead levels was the right choice. From what i've read (and again, i should be cautious and say of course i don't know what happened), it doesn't seem like Gray's behavior - lead influenced or not - merited what happened to him. Drum does later say that "even if you're a hard-ass law-and-order type" you'll want to look at the lead hypothesis, but it just struck me the wrong way to frame the subject.

For a different take, here's Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest.

By fnord12 | April 30, 2015, 1:46 PM | Liberal Outrage


I'm a Baltimore resident. The lead issue is real. But the issue of systematic police abuse, and blatant disregard for anything anyone with an appreciation for democracy would consider appropriate procedure, is very real as well. Personally, I was once arrested for (attempting to) take a phone-picture of the police arresting someone. They confiscated my phone and immediately said they were going to arrest me for loitering. When I was being processed, speaking to clerks in Central Booking, they showed sympathy (and not surprise) when I told them I wasn't engaged in criminal behavior. Some even said they wouldn't charge me, because it was fairly common for people to simply spend a night in lockup without a charge.
But they did hit me with three charges, and a completely manufactured story about the incident. They told me I had the "opportunity" to participate in "early adjudication" - where they tried to assign me community service and a fine. I told them I would not accept a punishment for something I didn't do. They pleaded with me "But going to court will mean paying a lawyer, and who knows what might happen - wouldn't you rather just get it over with?"
When I eventually went to court, with a lawyer (as well as video footage of the incident), the police officer didn't even show up initially. He had to be contacted multiple times. Up until the last moment before I was called before the judge, the state's attorney kept pushing a plea deal, which I refused.
When I was finally called forward, the arresting officer took a look at the charge sheet and laughed. The case was dropped and I was free to go.

I tell that story to make a point that these incidents are far from isolated, common enough that police officers regularly make false statements and arrest people for false reasons with the belief that it really won't get back to them, because there are layers of the system working to shield the truth from ever coming out in court. If i were a person less inclined to prove my innocence, or unable to afford a lawyer, I would have a hard arrest on my record. It is not hard for me to understand why thousands of my fellow citizens are ready to pop, and ready to completely disbelieve anything other than "The cops beat that kid from start to finish, and stopped the van to beat him some more in the meantime."

(So uh, yeah, i'm pretty aligned with what TNC has to say, natch!)