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Lisa Robinson, vice president, Vanguard Justice Society; Ken Butler, president, Vanguard Justice Society; Louis Hopson Jr., vice chair, Vanguard Justice Society; Barbara Jackson, community organizer; Ivan Bates, Tony Garcia, Bates & Garcia. (Photo by Kamau High)

The Vanguard Justice Society voiced its support for Sgt. Alicia D. White, who was charged earlier this month with manslaughter and second degree assault, as well as misconduct in office, and faces 20 years in prison in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. She was charged along with five other officers.

The non-profit group that advocates for minority police officers in Baltimore did just that on Sgt. White’s behalf at a May 13 press conference at Baltimore Community College.

“The purpose of this press conference is to express our full support in reference to the officers that have recently been charged and one officer in particular, a Vanguard member, Sgt. Alicia White,” said Ken Butler, Vanguard president.

Sgt. White, according to Mr. Butler, was recruited into Vanguard out of the police academy and was mentored by the organization.

In addition to Vanguard members, Barbara Jackson, a community organizer, spoke of Sgt. White’s Christian faith and volunteer work. Two of her lawyers, Ivan Bates and Tony Garcia, of Bates & Garcia, also addressed the assembled media.

Bates began by pointing out that according to State’s Attorney General Marilyn Mosby, Sgt. White had about 15 seconds of interaction with Freddie Gray and that Sgt. White never actually touched him.

Garcia also noted that Sgt. White was born and raised in Baltimore city as well as went to high school in Baltimore. “Alicia White is your sister, she’s your cousin, she’s your friend, she’s your neighbor,” Garcia said. “She is Baltimore city.”

The law firm of Bates & Garcia is known for suing the Baltimore Police Department for police brutality including the Kollin Truss case, in which a Baltimore police officer was captured on video tape punching Truss in the face repeatedly.

Lisa Robinson, vice president of Vanguard, was also on hand to speak in favor of Sgt. White. She said the group is looking forward to speaking to the Department of Justice during their investigation of the Freddie Gray case and wants to bring up several issues themselves. “Those include policies and procedures in terms of hiring, firing, disciplinary actions as well as promotions and transfers, policing strategies,” she said. “Our goal is also to look at the stop snitching culture. The stop snitching culture is prevalent on the streets of Baltimore as well as within the Baltimore Police Department.”

She went on to say, “It is our hope that at the end of this process that Baltimore will have a better, safer police department and city for all the citizens of Baltimore.”

During a question and answer period after the press conference Garcia, one of Sgt. White’s lawyers went on to criticize Marilyn Mosby, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City by saying, “You’re going to see accuracy was sacrificed for speed. You’re going to see a ‘chuck and duck’ style of prosecution that is not fair or unbiased to anyone.” He added,” You’re going to see that Ms. White was steamrolled into this. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time and had nothing to do with this.”

Her other attorney, Bates, then appeared to lay the groundwork for Sgt. White’s defense. “We’ve asked the state’s attorney numerous times to allow us to see the evidence and they haven’t. I guess for some reason the state feels that they have evidence that Ms. White didn’t do anything but before Ms. White got to the point to not do anything Ms. White would have to know that something needed to be done.”

Asked what Sgt. White had told them about her actions on the day of Freddie Gray’s arrest, Bates said, “I can’t necessarily go into what the client has told us but let’s just say we feel very confident about our defense.”

Mosby’s press office did not return calls by AFRO press time. However she released a statement, May 5, that read in part, “While the evidence we have obtained through our independent investigation does substantiate the elements of the charges filed, I refuse to litigate this case through the media.”