This week, I walked out of the barber shop this week and asked a friend, an African-American professional, to name his top concern of 2015.
Without hesitating, he said with conviction, “Police brutality and racial justice.”
His response did not come as a surprise. I suspect that other Black men and women feel the same.
Just days after our conversation about the troubling number of police assault cases against Black men and women in America, we learned that a Baltimore judge declared a mistrial on Wednesday in the trial of Baltimore police officer William Porter, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray.
The jury of seven women and five men was unable to reach a verdict after about 16 hours of deliberations.
“I do declare a mistrial,” Williams said. He said an administrative judge would set a new trial date this week.
Porter is the first of six Baltimore police officers to stand trial in Gray’s death. Three of the officers, including Porter, are Black. The mistrial highlights the ongoing difficulty for some jurors: Delivering a guilty verdict against a police officer. And Gray’s death adds to a growing list of cases involving the questionable killings of Black men – and women – by police officers across America.
It’s become a crisis is this republic – a description that some would prefer to downplay. But what’s needed is a continued bright light shined on the issue of police brutality and excessive use of force among police officers so, perhaps, some cops will think twice before assaulting – and killing – unarmed Black people.
Numerous cases of police abuse have sparked protests by the advocacy group “Black Lives Matter” and civil rights activists and congressional leaders are calling for investigations of police departments across the country.
In Chicago, for example, the U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department after a police officer was caught on video shooting a black teen 16 times.