Area politicians, civic leaders and others weigh in on the not guilty verdict handed down Thursday in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Goodson was acquitted of all charges.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: "Today Judge Barry G. Williams found Officer Caesar Goodson not guilty of all criminal charges. Officer Goodson was facing the most serious charges of the six officers charged in the case. Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Goodson will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion.
I am proud that we as a community have come together to move our city forward over the past year. I know that the citizens of Baltimore will continue to respect the judicial process and the ruling of the court." (via Twitter)
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis: "As our City reacts to the verdict rendered today by Judge Williams, I am pleased by the peaceful manner our residents have chosen to express their diverse opinions. I have no doubt we will continue to exhibit behaviors that represent the very best of Baltimore.
"The Baltimore Police Department has taken many progressive steps to improve over the last year. We will continue to adopt and implement policing practices consistent with the expectations of our community.
We all have a leadership role to play at this moment. Thank you for doing your part to sustain the momentum of our ongoing progress."
Gov. Larry Hogan: "Governor Hogan continues to respect the legal process, as well as the court's decision. Over the past year, the people of Baltimore City have made tremendous progress in rebuilding their communities and businesses. Our administration will continue to support Baltimore's leadership and citizens in their ongoing efforts to move forward from the events of last year." (statement from Hogan press secretary Shareese Churchill)
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin: "Baltimore City residents have experienced and expressed a wide range of emotions since the death of Freddie Gray. As someone who was born and raised in Baltimore, I have watched closely the events and judicial proceedings and, while our goal has been to seek justice for the tragic death of this young man, I urge everyone to respect the judge's decision. No verdict will bring back Freddie Gray to his family and his community. We must redouble our efforts to continue the dialogue and the hard work to rebuild the trust between law enforcement and the neighborhoods they are sworn to protect and serve. These conversations have directly translated into meaningful actions by Baltimore City residents, community leaders and lawmakers at every level.
"I will continue my outreach to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as it conducts its pattern-and-practice investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. I called for this investigation along with the rest of the Congressional delegation after the death of Freddie Gray." (press release)
Democratic mayoral candidate Sen. Catherine Pugh: "Today Judge Barry G. Williams rendered his verdict in the Officer Caesar Goodson trial. Judge Williams found Officer Goodson not guilty of all charges in relation to the death of Freddie Gray.
"I ask the citizens of Baltimore to continue to be patient as the process continues to move forward. Protests are a vital part of democracy, but to destroy the homes and businesses many people have worked very hard to build is unacceptable. Although people may disagree with the verdict, it is important to respect each other and to respect our neighborhoods and our communities." (via Gary Brown, spokesperson for State Senator Pugh)
Congressman Elijah E. Cummings: "Three cases have been heard in the death of Mr. Freddie Gray, and throughout, Judge Barry G. Williams has shown himself to be a tough, fair adjudicator.Today, after weighing the evidence presented by Mr. Goodson's defense attorneys and the prosecution, he found Mr. Goodson not guilty on all charges. I know that many of our neighbors will be disappointed and frustrated by today's verdict, and I understand those emotions. But we must continue to channel our energies into efforts to improve our city for all residents, and continue to improve our police department's practices and procedures to ensure that the policing of our streets is conducted professionally, safely, and fairly in all parts of our city. Baltimore's future does not rest on the outcomes of the trials surrounding Mr. Freddie Gray's death. Baltimore's future rests on every one of us." (press release)
City Council President Jack Young: "I would like to thank Judge Barry Williams for his thoughtful analysis of the evidence in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who stood as a defendant in the death of Freddie Gray.
As we begin to process the outcome of this case, let us respect the efforts of all those involved in this complex process.
As Baltimore continues to heal from April's unrest, I would ask that the citizens of Baltimore, and its guests, continue to engage in peaceful and constructive dialogue with actions that serve to improve our beloved city." (through a spokesman)
DeRay Mckesson, Black Lives Matter activist and former mayoral candidate: "This is a disappointing verdict. I look forward to the remaining trials. The verdict today is a reminder that the current laws, policies and practices protect police behavior at all costs. The work to create systems and structures that hold police accountable continues. Freddie Gray should be alive today."
Michaela Brown, Baltimore Bloc: "We need to stop saying the system is broken. It is not broken; it is doing exactly what it was designed to do and today's verdict shows that. Freddie Gray and his family paid the ultimate price for being Black at the wrong place and wrong time in a city that views Black lives as disposable. History tells us that likelihood of the officers responsible for Freddie Gray's death being convicted for their crimes is slim to none. That is why we're not going to stop saying his name. We're not going to stop fighting until we see justice." (press release)
Senator Joan Carter Conway: "Just based on the occurrence of the death, the number of cases of police brutality Baltimore City alone has had, and based on the current climate in terms the evidence that was originally collected, in light of all the rebellion and the fires and the destruction in the city, the prosecutor made the right decision to charge."
Joshua Harris, Green Party candidate for mayor: "Today Judge Williams found Officer Goodson not guilty on all charges. In the wake of the outcome I am keenly aware that this is not the opportunity to play respectability politics. While I believe firmly that our city will remain peaceful, a life was lost and will not return. Human life is far more valuable than property and we must be clear that in order to prevent another Freddie Gray there are policies that will need to be changed and work collaboration between communities and the police.
"Justice for Baltimore extends beyond this trial, beyond the Inner Harbor and will only come if we have leadership committed to setting respectability politics aside and going against the grain to change the status quo.
"The legal process is a small part of the work. We must address systemic and structural problems with race, class and economic disparity that extend far beyond this trial. It is those issues that have created the conditions for us to be at this point in the first place. I am focused and committed being proactive doing work to ensure structural change happens, so that our city and its justice system works for every citizen beyond these trials." (press release)
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, a Baltimore County Republican who was called up with the National Guard last year to patrol the city: "This was a knee-jerk reaction to bring all these charges. I saw it as a simple way to quell the riot in Baltimore. That's why they pushed out these charges, to make everyone happy."
Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network: "I am disappointed that Judge Barry G. Williams has decided to acquit police officer Caesar Goodson of all charges in the case of Freddie Gray. Last April, Gray sustained a fatal injury while riding in the van that Officer Goodson was driving, and now his family and friends live without him every day. Officer Goodson's reckless driving and carelessness for common safety procedures – most notably providing a seat belt – directly caused Gray's death. We will continue efforts at National Action Network to push for the delivery of justice and closure for Gray's family."
Cornell W. Brooks, NAACP president and CEO: "Gray's death is a tragedy not found to be a crime in court, but a wakeup call for Baltimore. Not a day of rejoice for anybody. The Baltimore police dept, & depts across the country, must continue work with the USDOJ to get protocols in order & build community trust. An atmosphere of trust includes policing not in a way making people feel they are being preyed upon rather than protected." (via Twitter)
House Minority leader Nic Kipke, Republican of Anne Arundel County: "The justice system has done its job. I am hopeful that everyone, no matter their opinion of the verdict, remains respectful for the rule of law and that the City of Baltimore, its citizens and its police department can begin to move on from this sad chapter in the City's history." (via text message)
Sen. Michael Hough, Republican of Frederick County: "At this point, they should just drop the charges and move on. There's no point in continuing this on. it's hurting police morale. We need to let the wound heal. I felt from the day those charges were brought they were politically motivated.
"It's time to drop it because crime is such a problem in Baltimore. I've seen this in a few urban areas, where police are afraid to get out of their cars and police the neighborhood. Clearly, they (prosecutors) don't have a case. They need to just drop it so that police aren't afraid to get out there and keep communities safe."
Baltimore Delegate Curt Anderson: "You can't get much more justice from the system than that. It doesn't matter whether the person was found innocent or guilty, they didn't get away with nothing. They had to stand in the light of scrutiny."
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP: "We have to go back to the drawing board here in Baltimore and Maryland with rules and regulations and laws that affect the police behavior, because it's clear that they can do action that we feel is not correct, but in the courtroom ... is not a criminal act."
William C. Calhoun, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in West Baltimore: "What brought about this decision was the overreach of the prosecution. I think it was a hasty way to proceed from the beginning to have charged them the way that they did. I think they should have taken a little bit more time in making the charges.
"I'm not worried about violence. There will be reaction, but not like what we've seen in the past."
William C. Calhoun Jr., son of the Rev. William C. Calhoun: "There's no such thing as justice. Justice for all doesn't apply to us. It's justice for some. Or if you have money or if you're of a paler hue.
"It's a blue code of silence. They know their colleagues have done wrong but they won't say so. That makes them complicit. You come to expect it. You become numb to it. But we have to keep fighting. We have to fight it nonviolently. We just want justice. We don't want special treatment. We just want equality."