Freddie Gray wrongly made a martyr

When will The Sun tell the whole story about Freddie Gray and the city's innocent police officers?

The loss of Freddie Gray's life was tragic. However, his decision to engage in drug trafficking led him down the path to self-destruction. The circumstances of that terrible incident do not warrant either the honors bestowed upon him or the conviction of officers who undoubtedly faced a stressful situation. It's ironic that the articles, "Hope and politics collide at March" and "When a parent is in prison, the family suffers," appeared together on The Sun's April 25 front page.

When describing the Gray case, The Sun repeatedly states he suffered a severe spinal injury while in police custody. The Sun, perhaps revealing its bias for convictions instead of justice, neglects to reiterate all the pertinent information. Mr. Gray was previously arrested numerous times for drug dealing and had pending court dates. He fled from police and resisted arrest on the day he died. His autopsy revealed he had opiates and marijuana in his system. Another prisoner in the van initially testified to hearing what sounded like Mr. Gray deliberately thrashing his body to the side of the van. The initial testimony of the second prisoner is more credible than his recantation because he may have subsequently encountered intimidation or duress from fellow prisoners, peers or gang members. The argument that Mr. Gray's injuries were sustained because he was not seat-belted is based on speculation and conjecture. Based upon his numerous prior arrests, he was thoroughly familiar with police procedures and how to make matters difficult for arresting officers. Under the influence of illicit drugs, his thought processes were likely impaired. Davonte Roary, a man who was with Freddie Gray when he was arrested last April, recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in an unrelated case.

By failing to consistently restate all the critical information related to the incident, The Sun is manipulatively tilting public option toward conviction. The observation became increasingly clear after reading The Sun's December 18 editorial "What Hogan got wrong about Baltimore crime": "…we are allowed to express a special outrage for what is in effect state-sponsored violence against individuals who, in the case of Freddie Gray and many others, committed no crime at all before they were killed." Such inflammatory words as "state-sponsored violence" and "killed" in that remark are more likely to create a lynch-mob mentality than to promote justice in a court of law. As long as The Sun portrays cops as bad guys and bad guys as victims, the relationship between the community and law enforcement officers will not improve in Baltimore.

My thoughts and prayers are for the wrongly accused officers and their families whose lives were severely damaged and may be destroyed. If the officers are convicted and sentenced to jail, how will their families endure the injustice?

The politically motivated charges stem from the riots and the mayor's inability to defuse the situation. Although knowing the wheels of justice turn slowly, immediately after Freddie Gray's death, the Rev. Al Sharpton incited violent protests by proclaiming, "no Justice, no peace," while the mayor stood behind him with tight lips. Hoodlums exploited the situation by pillaging and burning pharmacies and liquor stores. Nonetheless, before any officer got to trial, and with city officials running scared, Freddie Gray was hailed as a martyr and the mayor was eagerly willing to give his parents an astonishing $6.4 million.

To those honoring Mr. Gray as worthy of emulation, I urge you to reevaluate the message you are sending to inner-city youth. To anyone considering protesting the outcomes of the pending trails, I say please refocus your energies toward identifying and helping rehabilitate all the Freddie Grays currently walking the streets of Baltimore. Use your phone cameras to record the drug trafficking transactions, gang violence and murders occurring in your neighborhoods and come forward with information to solve the 330 murders because black lives do matter.

Jerry Rodkey, Ellicott City

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