Fair Trial in Baltimore?

Bill Neinast


In statistics, it is my statistics, your statistics, and damn lies.  In facts, it is my facts, your facts, and 24 hour TV news.

Statistically, the damn lies normally prevail.  Unfortunately, TV prevails in the facts arena.  Those are the “facts” that come from sticking a camera in the face of a bystander and asking, “What did you see?”

There is no fact checking, consideration of the background or bias of the chosen spokesman, or even if he actually saw what is being reported.  Aggravating this gathering of facts is the iron clad rule in journalism that if it bleeds, it leads.

This is what produced the “fact” of the “Hands Up--don’t shoot” scenario that fueled the riots in Ferguson, MO.  Now TV facts are spurring the riots in Baltimore and throughout the country over the death of Freddie Gray.

There is only one person who knows the facts of Gray’s death.  That is Gray, himself, and he is not available to answer questions.  So the only verifiable facts for the public are that he died of a broken spine while in police custody.

Those facts, though, are all that was needed to spark riots over the other “fact” that police everywhere in the U.S. target and pick on black men.  That must be true because “all” the men killed by police recently have been black.  

Another verifiable fact that was published after the riots started is that three of the six police officers involved are black and one of the black officers is female.   The attitude on the streets, however, is to disregard those facts because they interfere with the fun of rioting and looting.

The reports that Gray had a long history of arrests are just convenient excuses for the presumed police misconduct. Reports of the prior arrests, however, give credence to comments by police officers familiar with Gray and the procedures for transporting prisoners. But that smidgen of info must be ignored or down played by the media because it is not consistent with the “if it bleeds, it must lead” mantra.

Accordingly, the only one aware of the comments of a Baltimore police officer familiar with both Graves and the transport procedures  may be those who saw the Kelly File Friday evening. 

According to this report, Gray was arrested at the same location on a number of occasions for selling drugs.  He ran this time because he thought he was going to be arrested again and he was taken into custody for evading arrest.  On some previous arrests, he put up a fight just as he did this time.

His struggle was to leave the impression with observers that he would never cooperate with the police because he had become a snitch after he got to the police station on previous occasions.

Also, notwithstanding the policy to buckle prisoners on the bench of the van, arresting police officers normally do not get in the paddy wagon to strap in a violent prisoner because the cramped quarters resulted in injuries to the officer.

So here’s the perspective.

My facts and your facts do not matter in this case.  As usual, the TV facts will control.

One of the TV facts came from a rioter interrupted in his protest for an interview.  His observation for all the world to hear was, “If there are acquittals of any of these officers, the resulting riots will make the current ones look like child’s play!”

That leaves us with only one other fact.  Without question, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the six officers to get a fair trial. 


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