The black Libertarian writes about the recent unrest in the city of Baltimore.
The unrest that is afflicting Baltimore in the wake of the arrest and death of Freddie Gray is an unfortunate but predictable outcome of years of abuse and neglect. Last year’s Suninvestigation of Baltimore’s police brutality cases shined a light on engrained practice of tolerating and covering up police brutality. Such tactics temporarily shielded the police from outside scrutiny by media and kept Baltimore police out of the national spotlight. But those neighborhoods of Baltimoreans who knew and experienced that abuse have endured it for years with no reckoning of criminal justice.
The city has taken the positive step of making civil suit records public and searchable on a government website, but civil suits may take years to litigate and require resources the most vulnerable of Baltimoreans do not have. Without swift change in the day-to-day functions of city policing, piecemeal efforts on the back-end of reform will fail to quell the anger felt by the people of Baltimore.
Part of this problem is Maryland state law. Police personnel records—namely, their disciplinary files—are generally exempt from public information searches. Thus, officers who have a history of violence have no independent check on their behavior. If the Baltimore PD tolerates violent and repeated officer misconduct, as the Sun’s investigation showed it has, then officers are operating without any meaningful oversight vis a vis their interactions with the public.