By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
On the morning of April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., 25, sat with friends outside the Gilmor Homes in West Baltimore thinking about what he wanted to eat for breakfast. Moments later he was handcuffed and howling in pain as he was being shoved into the back of a police van. Later that morning his spine had been essentially severed in half as he rode untethered in the back of that van.
A week later he was dead.
But, it was at the moment when Gray’s screams of agony echoed throughout the festering Gilmor Homes that his fate was probably sealed. It was a moment that cried out for justice, just as similar moments had a million times before to no avail.
On May 1, 2015, Marilyn Mosby, the newly elected State’s Attorney for Baltimore City sought justice for Gray. He was poisoned from lead as a child, impoverished and a victim of homicide while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. On that day, she announced she was charging those six officers who arrested him and as she did cathartic screams of “Yes! Yes!” rang out across War Memorial Plaza.
The rejoicing of those brothers and sisters represented the pent up rage, frustration and fear of generations of Black people in Baltimore whose neighborhoods had been terrorized by law enforcement. Mosby held the police accountable for what they had done countless times before to countless poor, Black people with impunity.
And she’s been a target ever since.
Recently, months of accusations, innuendo, investigation and intense scrutiny (initially focused mainly on Mosby’s travel expenditures and a tax lien) by city officials and some members of the media have culminated with a federal criminal probe of the business and financial practices of Marilyn Mosby and her husband Nick Mosby, the president of the Baltimore City Council.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Marilyn Mosby is one of the most progressive prosecutors in the United States and she has the track record to prove it. Since her indictment of the six officers in the Gray case, she has become a major figure in the American criminal justice reform movement. Her office stopped prosecuting marijuana possession cases in January 2019, citing the historic disproportionate impact of marijuana criminalization on Black people and other people of color. She has thrown out several hundred criminal cases tainted by police misconduct. Her office has crafted a second chance program for first time, non-violent offenders. She created the Conviction Integrity Unit, which investigates cases of those falsely accused or convicted of crimes and works to exonerate those individuals.
Earlier this year Mosby traveled to St. Louis and joined several other Black female prosecutors from across the nation in solidarity with Kim Gardner, the circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis. Gardner has filed a federal lawsuit alleging an orchestrated racist conspiracy to push her out of office. It is treatment Mosby and the other top prosecutors who rallied around Gardner, allege is all too familiar to them.
The point is, Mosby represents and implements a disruption of the status quo in Baltimore’s criminal justice system and more broadly the flow of power in the city generally.
Marilyn Mosby, the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City and her husband Nick Mosby, the Baltimore City Council President, are the city’s ultimate power couple. And for various reasons they are an anathema to those who want to make Baltimore great again.
In October 2017, Marilyn Mosby told me the following:
“I had a group, an organization called “Red Nation Rising”on Twitter I was being blasted. I was getting death threats and hate mail to my office. I can remember one incident where they described vividly how my husband would be killed coming outside of our house, in an obituary and how when we would call for the police no one would show up.”
The Mosbys have been under constant, perilous pressure since 2015. There is a malevolent phalanx in Baltimore and beyond that wants to end them as a political force, period.
That reality doesn’t make them martyrs or saints. They are not perfect, God knows none of us are.
However, since becoming public servants they have shown up more consistently for Black people and poor people than the vast majority of politicians in Baltimore.
Now, the question is who in the Black community is going to show up for the Mosbys?
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