Sean Yoes

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter

On May 1, 2015, as parts of the city still smoldered, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the six cops who arrested Freddie Gray. The move sent seismic shockwaves throughout law enforcement agencies across the nation. Then three weeks later, a grand jury indicted those six officers on various charges. We all remember the outcome of that chapter in our city’s history and the ongoing fight for law enforcement reform in America.

Five years later (almost to the day) the world witnessed a White police officer in Minneapolis kneel on the neck of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020, for eight minutes and 46 seconds killing him in broad daylight with people watching.

And this week all eyes are on Minneapolis once again.

Jury selection began in the trial of the White, former police officer facing various murder charges, but none of them murder in the first degree, in Floyd’s death. Jury selection may last four weeks and opening statements won’t begin at the earliest until the end of March.

Yet, after all that has transpired over the last year there is no guarantee, in fact, far from it, that justice will be served for the public execution of George Floyd. Of all the lessons relearned during America’s most recent racial reckoning, the one that seems to tower over all is in America, Whiteness and wealth trumps (pardon the well-placed pun) all.

In America, White men with badges, White men with money seem to get away with everything including murder. The Capitol riots showed us White men even get away with murdering White police officers despite the sacred mythology of “Blue Lives Matter” promulgated by those same White men. Then again, they murdered and mauled, desecrated and defecated in the name of a White man with a lot of money.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis it feels like deja vu all over again for us in Baltimore.

In the fall of 2015, National Guard troops and armored vehicles quietly amassed along the city’s perimeter preparing for the worst as the trials for those six police officers began. But, fears of another revolt in Baltimore never came to fruition. Instead, the city’s most disenfranchised communities, the same neighborhoods that produced Freddie Gray continue to channel their rage against each other and set a record rate of murder and mayhem for the six years since Gray’s death.

In Minneapolis, after a year of revolt and global outcry, which for the most part took the form of peaceful protests, the city is hunkering down. The Hennepin County Government Center is now surrounded with fencing, barricades and barbed wire. And with the addition of about 2,000 National Guard troops and more than 1,000 more law enforcement officers the area resembles Kabul, Afghanistan a decade ago, or Washington, D.C. today.

In March of 1991, the world watched a gang of white cops in Los Angeles beat and electrocute Rodney King almost to death. Then from April 29 to May 4, 1992, the world watched again while parts of Los Angeles tore itself asunder and dozens of people died, after an all-White jury cut those cops loose.

Thirty years later, will it be different this time in Minneapolis?

The world watched a White man in Minneapolis kneel on the neck of a Black man on Memorial Day 2020, for eight minutes and 46 seconds murdering him in broad daylight as people watched. And once again a White man is on trial for murdering a Black man as the world watches.

Will this time be different?

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Senior Reporter and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor