Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby traveled to St. Louis this week and joined other black, female prosecutors to speak out against a political and law enforcement establishment that she says has attacked her, undermined her work for reform, and sought to push her from office.
Mosby pledged solidarity with St. Louis’ top prosecutor Kim Gardner who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging political attacks by her own city leaders and police union.
"The vitriol, the personal and the professional attacks, particularly against black, female prosecutors is unprecedented,” Mosby told the crowd. “The individuals making decisions about who’s going to be charged, what they’re going to be charged with, what sentence recommendations they’re going to make — 95% of those prosecutors in this country are white; 79% are white men. And as women of color, we represent 1% of all elected prosecutors in this country. Our very existence challenges the status quo.”
Her appearance at the rally comes as Mosby continues to square off with Gov. Larry Hogan and the city police union. In recent weeks, she has made her case to the nation by writing op-eds in USA Today, the Washington Post and traveling to the rally in St. Louis. Her spokeswoman said the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice paid for the trip.
“My governor has even gone as far as to provide my prosecutorial discretion to the attorney general, which I believe is an outrageous and undemocratic power grab,” Mosby told the crowd.
Hogan submitted his budget proposal Wednesday with $2.6 million for the attorney general to hire more staff and prosecute more crimes in the city. Hogan has said Mosby’s office acts too quickly to drop criminal cases.
“There’s no question that we have a difference of opinion about how we go about handling these crimes,” the governor told WBAL radio Wednesday. “I put more money into her budget to help her prosecute crime. I put more money into Rob Hur’s budget, so the federal prosecutors can go after federal gun crimes. And I put more money in the attorney general, so he can help ... it’s all hands on deck.”
Baltimore ended 2019 with 348 homicides, the second highest total on record and the worst count since 1993. By Wednesday, 15 people had been killed in 15 days this year. City leaders continue to grasp for some way to stem the violence.
In her op-ed last week in USA Today, Mosby and Kimberly Foxx, state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois, called attention to the case in Missouri of Lamar Johnson. The 45-year-old has spent more than half his life behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Mosby and Foxx wrote.
Mosby said she has faced opposition to her efforts to bring criminal justice reform to Baltimore. She wrote in the op-ed that the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association opposed legislation she backed to erase old convictions in cases brought by the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force.
Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said members of the association in fact helped write and pass a final version of the law.
Meanwhile, Mosby has come under fire from the police union ever since she charged six officers in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. None were convicted.
In an October report titled “The Mismanagement of The Baltimore Police Department and its Impact on Public Safety,” union leaders took issue with her again.
“It is no secret to our membership that the policies and decisions made by the State’s Attorney’s Office are based on personal biases and social beliefs, as opposed to the law," the report reads. "The resulting lack of proactive engagement reduces the impact of officers on violent crime, crime prevention, and intelligence gathering.”
Union President Mike Mancuso wrote in an email Wednesday that the disagreement with Mosby always has been about her politics.
“We have never brought race or gender into any discussion about Marilyn Mosby,” he wrote. “We have, however, referred to her as an activist prosecutor, or social justice prosecutor, which was clearly on display yesterday in St. Louis.”
Mosby became the youngest chief prosecutor in any major city in 2014, then won reelection four years later. She became the second black woman to lead the office, following Patricia Jessamy who served from 1995 to 2011.
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Mosby has aligned herself with the most progressive district attorneys in America, pledging to stop prosecuting people in Baltimore for possessing marijuana and bringing criminal cases against police officers who she alleges have done wrong. Her conviction integrity unit has partnered with nonprofit innocence projects to set free Baltimore men who have been wrongly convicted and spent decades in prison.
Mosby also took to Facebook after the St. Louis rally, writing that her decision to prosecute officers in Gray’s death incited attacks “from all corners.”
“Death threats, Hate Mail, Protests outside of my house,” she wrote.
Her office provided a voicemail message left by an anonymous Missouri woman and laced with profanity and anger. The Sun verified the call.
“How dare you come to St. Louis!" the caller said. “You hate cops! You hate white people!”
Those angry words — they only got worse — underscored her remarks. Mosby said she understands how Gardner feels.
“I’m watching the suit," she said. “I think the nation is."