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Battle Lines Are Drawn in the War on Cops

Who killed Freddie Gray?

According to Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, Freddie was murdered in a conspiracy of six cops who imprisoned him in a police van and there assaulted and killed him. The killer was African-American officer Caesar Goodson, driver of the van, who, with a “depraved heart,” murdered Freddie.

This is a summation of the charges against six Baltimore cops made Friday by Mosby, as she ranted into the TV cameras:

To the people of Baltimore, and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’ … To the youth of this city: I will seek justice on your behalf. …

This is your moment. … You’re at the forefront of this cause and as young people, our time is now.

Mosby has cast herself as the avenging angel of those clamoring for retribution. But unless she has far more evidence than has been revealed, Mosby is talking a stronger hand than her cards are showing on the table.

For consider the captivity of Freddie Gray, step by step.

Making contact with a cop at 8:39 in the morning, Freddie fled, was caught with a knife, and put in a police van that made four stops.

On the first, the cops lifted Freddie off the floor and sat him down. On the second and third, they looked in on him again. On the fourth, they had detoured to pick up another prisoner. Mosby is charging that not only did the cops willfully ignore Freddie’s cries for help, but also the driver deliberately handled the van in so reckless a manner as to inflict a fatal injury, the severing of his spine.

But where is the evidence for any of this?

True, as Freddie had a legal knife, he had committed no crime and should not have been arrested. And the cops should have used the seat belt in the van to buckle in Freddie. But those are police failings, not police felonies.

And while Freddie should have been taken sooner to a hospital, did the cops know how badly injured he was? How could they have known—if they had done nothing to injure him?

And when and how was Freddie’s spinal cord severed? There appears thus far no evidence that five of the cops did anything to cause this. And no evidence has been brought forward that Goodson tried to injure Freddie by giving him “a rough ride.” The Washington Post reported that the second prisoner said that on the final leg of the trip to the police station, Freddie was thrashing around, possibly injuring himself.

Consider. In the Rodney King case, where there was film of his extended beating with billy clubs, a Simi Valley jury refused to convict any of the four cops. In Ferguson, Michael Brown sustained half a dozen gunshot wounds. Yet officer Darren Wilson was not indicted.

On Staten Island, 350-pound Eric Garner was seen on film being taken down by five cops in an arrest that led to his death, but none of the cops was indicted.

And there is far less visible evidence of any police crime in the case of Freddie Gray than in any of those three incidents.

The heart of the case against all six is that they denied Freddie the medical treatment needed to save his life. But where is the proof the officers knew how gravely injured he was, that he was in danger of death?

By going on national television and ordering the arrest of the six officers on charges that could mean the rest of their lives in prison, Mosby may have stopped the riots and calmed the crowds in Baltimore. But she has kicked this can right up the road into 2016.

For what is coming is predictable.

Thus far, Freddie Gray has been portrayed by the media as the victim of brutal vigilante cops. But, soon, those six officers are going to be seen as flesh-and-blood cops who may have blundered in not seeing the extent of Freddie’s injuries, but who are being railroaded by a malicious prosecutor pandering to an angry mob calling for vengeance.

While we have seen film of the arrest of Freddie Gray and his placement in that van, film that is inconclusive, what we are going to hear now is the other side of the story, the cops’ side. From now on, they will be the underdogs, and Americans love underdogs.

A nation already riveted by the Freddie Gray episode, already divided, will become more so, as we move toward the indictments, the trials and the verdicts.

In our deepening political divide, the left invokes the narrative that black males are all too often terribly treated by brutal cops, while the right sees tough policing as having cut crime to more tolerable levels and cops as the thin blue line between them and anarchy. The battle lines have been drawn upon which the “War On Cops” issue will be fought out in 2016.

As Pete Seeger sang, “Which side are you on?”

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. [1] Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

25 Comments (Open | Close)

25 Comments To "Battle Lines Are Drawn in the War on Cops"

#1 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 5, 2015 @ 12:36 am

And there you have it. The notion that Blacks are routinely mistreated by the police is just a “leftist” fantasy. And the issue provides the excuse for Mr Buchanan to once again back the GOP candidate for president, even though that candidate will be more, not less, in line with the FP that Mr Buchanan consistently purports to favor than the Dem nominee. And he seems to revel in the reluctance of White juries to punish even clear cut cases of that brutality. And, gee, wanting to be on the “side” of the cops is really going out on a limb, too! Red meat for the base. And out of control government officials? Well, that only applies to OSHA agents and welfare social workers. Cops, on the other hand, by abusing helpless prisoners, are “underdogs” preventing “anarchy.” Shameless pandering.

#2 Comment By Escher On May 5, 2015 @ 2:31 am

1968 redux. Will a new Nixon pop up?

#3 Comment By Junior On May 5, 2015 @ 7:06 am

“True, as Freddie had a legal knife, he had committed no crime and should not have been arrested. And the cops should have used the seat belt in the van to buckle in Freddie. But those are police failings, not police felonies.”

Mr. Buchanan, I agree with your assessment that it does not bode well for Ms. Mosby’s case if past cases like Eric Garner’s in Staten Island in which there was MUCH more visual evidence resulted in no indictments of police. However I feel that you minimize the police’s actions and the results of those actions in MISTER Gray’s case. Specifically the driver of the vans actions of not putting the seat belt on Mr. Gray.

According to Mosby, Gray’s neck injury was the “result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the [Baltimore Police Department] wagon.” There are multiple stops to check on Gray and every time, police officers do not call for medical help and never buckle Gray into the van. The Baltimore Police have had MULTIPLE cases brought against them for paralysis brought on by these unbuckled van rides so they can’t even plead ignorance of the possible results of such actions.

An INNOCENT American is now dead as a result of this BLATANT disregard for procedure while in THEIR custody. It is felonious. This was not just some blunder or police failing.

An INNOCENT American is dead because of this anarchy used by the police on him by not following procedure and it is a travesty of justice if they are not held responsible for their actions. It is not a “War on Cops”, it is a “War on Injustice”.

I for one am going to choose to be on the side of the blind lady carrying the scales.

#4 Comment By SteveM On May 5, 2015 @ 7:15 am

Re: “In our deepening political divide, the left invokes the narrative that black males are all too often terribly treated by brutal cops, while the right sees tough policing as having cut crime to more tolerable levels and cops as the thin blue line between them and anarchy. The battle lines have been drawn upon which the War On Cops issue will be fought out in 2016.”

As has been documented and opined in many places it’s actually the hyper-militarized cops’ “War on the Public” that is being fought. E.g.,

[2]

With the cops armored up for battle and the public’s weapons limited to the cell phone camera.

I’ve used this incident several times before for illustration:

[3]

I use it because the victim is white which generalizes the cops’ attitude about the public across racial lines. The student was set upon and brutally beaten by cops imbued with a collective Goon psychology. Collective in the application of violence against an innocent person, collective in the conspiracy to mis-report the event and collective in the implied conspiracy to later testify at the student’s trial for the false accusations of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. In other words an entire cabal of cops was prepared to beat down a person and then wreck his life afterwards. For what reason other than that they could?

Those cops are wired as a group to abuse innocent people. That University of Maryland beat down and the conspired aftermath is the reality of what goes on between their ears. The same conspiracy of subversion and silence is what is happening now among the cops in the Freddy Gray incident. It is incidents like those that and the many other video captures of police abuse and outright brutality on YouTube that are the ignition points for public resistance against an out of control domestic security state.

It’s not a Left versus Right thing. It’s a cops versus the Constitution thing with us caught is the middle.

#5 Comment By Mike Alexander On May 5, 2015 @ 8:57 am

Buchanan writes:

True, as Freddie had a legal knife, he had committed no crime and should not have been arrested. And the cops should have used the seat belt in the van to buckle in Freddie.

This van then made made four stops. On the first, the cops lifted Freddie off the floor and sat him down. *And did not buckle him in* for a second time.

On the second stop they looked in on him again. *And AGAIN did not buckle him in* for a THIRD time.

On the third stop they looked in on him again. *And AGAIN did not buckle him in* for a FOURTH time.

They also picked up a second prisoner, whom they DID buckle in, as they are required to do.

Look the evidence is clear. You can convict on circumstantial evidence, which often is the best kind of evidence. The facts are the victim was seen alive and well. Witnesses saw six cops seize this man unlawfully (as noted above he should not have been arrested) and forcibly place him in a van. When the victim exits the van he is dying.

Clearly *something* happened to the victim that caused his death when he was in the custody of the six cops. If the cops were not responsible for his death, who was? The other guy in the van was in a cage, he couldn’t have done anything. Did the victim kill himself? Hard to see how he could have done so when he was bound hand and foot. As it turns out the medical examiner has ruled it a homicide.

This means one or more of the six men are responsible for this homicide because they were the only people at the scene of the crime who had freedom to act. If the homicide turns out to be murder, those not directly involved are still guilty of conspiracy to commit murder because they were present (that’s all it takes).

It has already been determined that the victim was not belted in as protocol dictated. This means the six are all likely guilty of negligence. They had FOUR opportunities to belt him in and failed to do it each time. That raises the bar to reckless negligence.

Still left is the consequence. Failing to belt him in, would not have led to homicide if the ride had been smooth and easy. The reason death results is that the bound victim was tossed around in the compartment. The fact that they *retrieved him from the floor* shows that he was not fastened into place. The person responsible for this tossing is the driver, and he is the one charged with depraved heart murder. Others are charged with involuntary homicide. I suspect these might be the individuals who put him into the seat but did not belt him in.

All of them are guilty of assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office, but some probably had charges reduced in exchange for cooperation.

I expect some will be convicted on some of these charges and one or more may even go to prison.

#6 Comment By Johan On May 5, 2015 @ 9:44 am

Since it is conspicuously the Democratic Party constituencies doing the rioting and looting, the Republicans could use this to their advantage in 2016. I haven’t voted R since 2004, but I may well vote R in 2016 because the Demos and their constituencies seem to be the party of urban riots and anti-cop behaviour.

#7 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 5, 2015 @ 10:30 am

Pat, I agree with your analysis, but your conclusion worries me:

“The battle lines have been drawn upon which the ‘War On Cops’ issue will be fought out in 2016.”

The “War on Cops” issue is a distraction from the two most important issues facing Americans:

(1) Living-wage jobs for all Americans and

(2) An end to unnecessary wars.

Sadly, I have no doubt that the political classes – both Republican and Democratic – would rather talk endlessly about Ferguson-to-Baltimore-type distractions than talk about bringing back to America the millions of manufacturing jobs that have been shipped overseas and ending the unnecessary, counterproductive wars.

#8 Comment By Captain P On May 5, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

So the cops grab a guy for possessing a legal weapon, shackle and handcuff him, and put him in the van without any restraint, and then he ends up with a broken neck, and we’re seriously debating whether the cops have any criminal liability? Hey, there’s a “War on Cops” (as if putting someone on trial is a “war”), so it’s totally plausible that Mr. Gray deliberately killed himself to make the cops look bad!

#9 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 5, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

Some comments about rides in police vans that might offer some insight for law-abiding citizens who haven’t ridden in police vans:

First, this is an article from “Car and Driver” magazine entitled “2015 Ford Transit Prisoner Transport Vehicle: Designed for Discomfort”:

“It’s not every day that a car company introduces a vehicle by touting how unhappy the occupants will be. Well, Ford’s press release for its new Transit Prisoner Transport Vehicle (Transit PTV) does just that, proclaiming: ‘[The] Only People Not Thrilled About Riding in All-New Ford Transit? Prisoners’.”

[4]

The article continues: “One photo shows bench seating for six in the rearmost compartment, complete with a wall-mounted strap for cuffed hooligans to grasp so they don’t fly around the back like salt in a shaker when crossing railroad tracks or trundling down pockmarked back alleys. It all looks appropriately uncomfortable…”

[5]

I’ve been arrested a number of times over the years and have been transported in a prisoner transport vehicle (police van) maybe a dozen times. From this limited experience I can say that the inside of this particular Ford vehicle – particularly the benches with the belt hook-ups and straps to hang onto – looks fairly typical for police vans I’ve experienced.

Sitting on the bench of a police van is like sitting in a tin can. The bench is hard metal (or hard plastic) and there is no cushioning. This is because vans need to be hosed out regularly — for urine, excrement, blood, and vomitus – and washed down. Even so the inside of the vans often have less-than-savory smells and sometimes you can see pieces of excrement or vomitus stuck to the floor.

When the police arrest you and load you in the van, they often load you in with other arrestees – and some of these arrestees can be quite excited and may try to engage their fellow arrestees in “conversation” that may often be abusive and that sometimes seems designed to pick a fight. Some arrestees are in a bad shape from drugs, alcohol, or other substances and may not be in control of their bodily functions – which can make the ride unpleasant for other arrestees. Sometimes passed out prisoners are stretched out on the floor of the van so they won’t roll off the bench and risk injury.

The police driver of the van can often be transporting arrestees who might eventually be in need of some sort medical attention. That’s not unusual. But in my experience the driver was instructed to deliver the arrestees to a particular cop shop and was not likely to make stops at hospitals or clinics along the way unless an arrestee had some type of wound (gunshot, knife, etc.) — but in that case it would be likely that an ambulance had already been called at the place of arrest.

One overwhelming impression I had from my rides in police vans is that all of them I ever rode in seemed to have absolutely no shocks and were like sitting in the back of a pick-up truck that had no shocks. Pot holes and railroad tracks could really shake you up, so it was always a relief to get to the cop shop, go through the fingerprint/booking process, and get walked down to a cell. The cell had metal benches, too, but at least the cell wasn’t being run over pot holes and railroad tracks.

#10 Comment By Ethan On May 5, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

“Gentlemen, a riot is an oogly zzing, and its about time we had one!!”
(Inspector Kemp-(Kenneth Mars) in “Young Frankenstein)

Seriously, this just about sums up the list of options available to inner city minorities in regards to police brutality. The only time the political classes pay the slightest attention to the plight facing these people is when things are on fire-literally.
Few political commentators are as predictable as Charles Krauthammer and Pat Buchanan. For Krauthammer, the United States lose all credibility in the world (and pretty much the end of civilization as we know it) if we aren’t killing a few thousand people every month in the Middle East. For Buchanan, we simply must address the plight of … our poor misunderstood and oppressed police force. Oh yes, occasionally somebody gets mussed up a bit like Freddie Gray, or takes a few bullets in the back like Walter Scott. Or gunned down in a Wall Mart for the crime of trying to buy an air rifle. But hey, don’t blame it on the police, it is always the victims fault. Just ask the all-white juries that acquit them with impunity.
I do not deny the fact that these communities represent a substantial portion of all crime committed in the USA. The job of the police force is not to be envied. However the root causes of lawlessness must be traced to the lack of legitimate jobs, and the corrosive effect of the “war on drugs”. Until these issues have been addressed in a effective manner (unlikely if ever), the situation will continue. I predict that in as little as a decade, we are going to face armed insurrection, not mere riots.
As wrong as I feel Mr Buchanan is on this issue, he was right a few decades ago when he predicted where we were going with free trade. Exporting all of our working class jobs has led directly to the current state of affairs in Baltimore, Ferguson, and elseware.

#11 Comment By c matt On May 5, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

tough policing as having cut crime to more tolerable levels and cops as the thin blue line between them and anarchy.

I am all for reducing crime – but within the bounds of the law. I prefer good policing to “tough” policing, whatever that is.

You, Pat, of all people, should know the ends do not justify the means. Are there instances of false claims of police brutality? Of course. Are there legitimate claims of police brutality? Again, of course. Too early to really tell in this case at this point which it is, but there seems to be enough to at least bring charges and go to a grand jury.

#12 Comment By Al On May 5, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

Shorter Pat Buchanan –

An American citizen – who shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place – was severely injured and died being transported in a police van. The police, with depraved indifference to his well-being, deliberately left him without seatbelt and without medical attention for the injuries that resulted in his death.

I, Pat Buchanan, am on the side of the police – they are real Americans™ after all…

#13 Comment By JonF On May 5, 2015 @ 4:21 pm

The facts in the Gray case are very damning– this isn’t something like the Mike Brown case in Ferguson where there were circumstances that could be argued over. Nothing whatsoever has come to light that remotely explains, let alone excuses, police behavior in this case. People in this area (I live in Baltimore), even generally conservative types out in the suburbs, are fairly clear about this*. There’s very little support for the cops who have now been indicted. The rest of the country would do well to note this and not try to make this yet another Culture Wars issue.

* To be sure I suspect that some of my suburban contacts are happy to condemn the cops in this case because they generally condemn all things Baltimore. Were these suburban cops it might be a different story.

#14 Comment By FuturoDellanazione On May 5, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

The issue is the charge of “murder.” They won’t get that conviction. For any of them. Not in a million years. Even the manslaughter charges are a long shot. The fantasies of the social justice crowd notwithstanding, the best the cop-haters can hope for is the assault and misconduct charges.

This is the same nonsense that allowed Zimmerman to walk. They over-charged him, couldn’t meet the standard of evidence and made jacka**es of themselves to satisfy the demands of the activists. Bad strategy.

Keep the riot squad on speed dial, Baltimore.

#15 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 5, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

Nothing challenges my conservative foundations than these issues. And i must state, that as a conservative, I must side on limiting government use of force, unless absolutely neccessary.

The growth of police unions citing in a guise of conservative orthodoxy as they peice meal the Consitution is a very problematic. When an unarmed citizen loses his or her life while involved with the police.

The side of justice as should always be the only side and the very purpose of the Constitution is a proper guide. I would that justice was blind. but justice is administered by humans and all of our foibles.

#16 Comment By Captain P On May 5, 2015 @ 5:18 pm

Also, if we need evidence that Baltimore cops have a practice of injuring handcuffed detainees in their vehicles, here’s an article from the Baltimore Sun: [6]

#17 Comment By KXB On May 5, 2015 @ 6:35 pm

Shorter Buchanan – Police can only enforce the law if they are exempt from the law.

#18 Comment By gocart mozart On May 5, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

To the people of Baltimore, and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’ … To the youth of this city: I will seek justice on your behalf. …

Lets see what you left out.

She said: “To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

#19 Comment By William Grigg On May 5, 2015 @ 7:40 pm

As Pete Seeger sang, “Which side are you on?”

In any conflict between privileged dispensers of state-licensed violence and those on the receiving end, I emphatically side with the latter.

As I’ve pointed out before, as a young man Patrick Buchanan assaulted two police officers and suffered nothing more severe than a ride downtown and a year’s suspension from school.

I find myself wondering how that version of Patrick Buchanan would react to the older version’s embrace of punitive populism — and his willingness to pretend that six cops plausibly charged in the homicide of a man who should not have been arrested are “underdogs.”

#20 Comment By AndyG On May 5, 2015 @ 8:23 pm

If the point of the article is that a poor choice is being made by assuming guilt too early in the investigation, most people would agree.
If Mr. Buchanan is simply stating that there are only two “sides,” and that we will each choose “what side we will be on,” I and many others will continue to hope that most Americans will see that there’s a lot more to this issue than can be addressed by taking sides.

#21 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 6, 2015 @ 3:35 am

Iraqi “Blackwater” occupation “policing” comes home to America. Would there be anything left for Norman Rockwell to paint, were he alive today?

#22 Comment By bacon On May 6, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

The title of the article says everything one needs to know about Mr. Buchanan’s social view. “… the War on Cops.” The concept that those who are injured or killed in encounters with police might have a say worth listening to apparently doesn’t occur to him.

#23 Comment By Brooklyn Blue Dog On May 6, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

This article points to something that has always mystified me about small government conservative types, and Philadelphialawyer has touched upon it.

According to conservatives, representatives of the government are always incompetent goons, intent on stealing the freedom of normal Americans, and with the unlimited power of the state at their disposal to do it.

All except, of course, for the representatives of the state with the most power to deprive a normal American of his/her life, liberty and property — the police and the military. The very institutions most capable of trampling the constitution in a way that is irreparable (depriving you of life) are the ones that conservatives put to the least amount of scrutiny. Indeed, in some quarters, the most dangerous representatives of the state are invested with infallibility. Of course, they always arrest the right person! Of course, they always follow the law! Of course they always do what’s right for us! They’re perfect!

I wish that someone would explain this blind spot to me.

#24 Comment By c matt On May 6, 2015 @ 4:21 pm

On second reading, PB could simply be laying out the fault lines of the Freddygate circus to come, not necessarily taking sides at this point. If that is the case, then, yes, I would agree that the article lays out what will likely be the fault lines.

#25 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 6, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

“I wish that someone would explain this blind spot to me.”

I am not sure your sentiments represents all conservatives.

I am not sure your sentiments represent most conservatives.

I am not sure your sentiments represents Mr. Buchannan’s conservativism. With respect to Mr. Buchanan, I think the view is much subtler.

1. The suggestion is that the prosecutor has framed the matter such as one must choose a side, and that may be premature as well as divisive.

2. Simply that the case may be shy of the indictment of murder as is laid out for the driver.

Anyone taking my comments as a defense of the police as opposed to understanding the that there are unseen cards in the hand would terribly mistaken.