“Another verdict that allows for Gray’s death to go unpunished sends a clear message that our criminal justice system only protects the status quo. Gray certainly did not kill himself,” APALA National President Johanna Hester stated. “Our criminal justice system – which time and again continues to fail and devalue black lives – needs to change. We need more accountability, more responsibility and more transparency if things are ever going to change.”
Rice’s acquittal follows the clearing of two other Baltimore officers of all charges, Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr., in May and June, respectively. 25-year-old Freddie Gray was detained and sent to the hospital on April 12, 2015, where he remained in a coma before passing away on April 19. Following Gray’s death, Baltimore experienced a series of protests, uprisings and acts of civil unrest.
“The rage that Black folks and people of color feel is completely justified. Our system continues to disproportionately target and criminalize Black bodies for simply existing,” added APALA Executive Director Gregory A. Cendana. “We have every right to be enraged and refuse to be complicit in the brutality and murder of our Black brothers and sisters.”
The verdict comes at a time where racial division is at a high and joins a month that has already been plagued with violence, including the shootings of Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile and recent shootings targeting police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“Violence of any kind should not be tolerated. We cannot fight violence with violence. We need to look at the root causes and use collective action to change a system that only benefits those in power and with privilege,” Cendana stated.
APALA stands firms in the movement for Black Lives and continues to advocate for reforms and policies that promote racial, economic, and social justice for all communities of color.