Baltimore To Jeff Sessions: Fuuuuuuuuck Yooooooouuuuu!
FUCK YOU JEFF SESSIONS, for trying to undo the only good thing that came out of Freddie Gray's pointless death. We see you trying to weasel out of the Consent Decree the Justice Department brokered between Baltimore and its police department (BPD). And timing it to coincide with the anniversary of Freddie Gray's arrest on April 12, 2015, is a nice touch. Your “bad apples” theory of police misconduct may play on Fox News, but the Department of Justice crunched actual data and found systemic violations of our citizens’ constitutional rights. And since you are the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the land, we’d like you to do your job and not throw away years of work because cooperating with Democratic cities doesn't fit with the Trump administration's political agenda. Or because you are a notorious racist. ALLEGEDLY.
FUCK YOU JEFF SESSIONS, for forgetting how Freddie Gray died. Remember how officers stepped on his spine before they cuffed him and threw him into the van without a seatbelt, then gave him a “rough ride” to beat the shit out of him before he got to the station? Remember how he slipped into a coma and died a week later? Remember how no cops got convicted because it wasn’t consistent BPD policy to bother with seatbelts in the paddy wagon? If Gray had survived, he’d have been just one of the many of lawsuits filed against BPD every year. The city paid out $5.7 million in settlements for police brutality in the four years leading up to Gray’s death. Your Motion argues that we should not "undermine" police because of a few bad cops.
The misdeeds of individual bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe.
It's not anti-cop to point out that Freddie Gray's community was not safe, not from cops, and not from criminals. The city wasn't paying out millions to settle lawsuits because of a few "bad actors."
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, for thinking that no one cares if black kids get hassled by cops. WE CARE. This is our city, and those are our kids. All of them.
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSONS, for being devoted to the Second Amendment and not giving a damn about the Fourth. As a senator, you had an A+ rating from the NRA. You’re very concerned that we all have the “right to bear arms,” including automatic weapons. It’s the “freedom from unreasonable search and seizure” that doesn’t bother you much. Did you know that Freddie Gray was tackled to the ground because he ran from the cops? They found a knife in his waistband and arrested him for it.
So, you’re good with this.
But not this
The actual knife found on Freddie Gray, measured in centimeters.
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, for treating this Consent Decree like it’s an insult to law enforcement, when our Police Commissioner Kevin Davis supports it. The 227-page document outlines policies and procedures to protect our citizens' Constitutionally guaranteed rights. You're asking the Court to pause so you personally can get a handle on The Decree. Well, here are some highlights.
- BPD should focus on Community Policing, building relationships with the people they serve to reduce crime and build stable neighborhoods.
- Involuntary searches must be based on Reasonable Suspicion as required by the Fourth Amendment. They cannot be justified by a citizen's refusal to consent to a search, or his neighborhood, or his race, or boilerplate language broad enough to be meaningless.
- Police must have specific reasons for thinking a citizen is armed and dangerous before a pat down examination, i.e. frisk.
- No more “pretext stops,” where police say that a citizen is loitering and detain him for questioning or a search.
- Strip Searches will be a last resort, not a first.
- No Body Cavity Searches without a warrant.
- "BPD officers shall not conduct Frisks or searches of LGBT individuals for the purpose of viewing or assigning gender based on the person’s anatomy or genitalia. LGBT individuals shall not be subject to more invasive Frisk or search procedures than other individuals on the basis of their gender expression or sexual orientation."
- Officers may not rely on information they know is false to justify arrest or detention. (Does this sound obvious? It appears at least five times in the document, strongly implying that this is an ongoing issue.)
- Quit locking people up for Stupid Shit: "BPD will enforce its policy instructing officers that, for Quality of Life Offenses, that the appropriate response is the least intrusive response appropriate under the circumstances as reasonably understood by the officer at the time. In other words, a verbal warning and counseling is preferable to a Citation, and a Citation is preferable to a custodial Arrest."
- Document Racial Disparities in numbers of arrests and searches.
- Police Officers should be trained to deal with persons who are suffering from mental illness so that situations don't escalate into violence.
- When force is necessary, use force in a manner that avoids unnecessary injury or risk of injury to officers and civilians.
- BPD will prohibit the use of chokeholds or neckholds unless deadly force is authorized and no reasonable force alternative exists that is within BPD policy.
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, because Freddie Gray would still be walking around if this Consent Decree had been BPD policy two years ago. Literally everything about this man's interaction with police violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The police pursued him without reasonable suspicion of any criminal activity, searched him without consent, physically restrained him in a deliberately injurious manner, and arrested him without cause. As his lawyer Billy Murphy put it, "Running while black is not probable cause. Felony running doesn't exist, and you can't arrest someone for looking you in the eye."
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, for forgetting that police mismanagement directly contributed to the riot/uprising on April 25, 2015. Acting on a social media rumor of impending violence, police shut down all public transportation near Frederick Douglass High School, going so far as to force riders off buses in the area. Five thousand students a day catch the bus at the Mondawmin Mall transportation hub across from Douglass High. When Douglass let out that afternoon, a thousand kids came face to face with cops in riot gear. Without public transportation, the kids were trapped. Half an hour later, the riot started. Maybe it would have happened anyway, or maybe not. But the city was a powder keg that day, and the BPD recklessly dropped a match.
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, for trying to bring us back to unconstitutional "stop and frisk" searches by pretending to be "tough on crime." Here's an excerpt from the Justice Department's Report on how searches were conducted in Baltimore.
BPD's pedestrian stops are concentrated on a small portion of Baltimore residents. BPD made roughly 44 percent of its stops in two small, predominantly African American districts that contain only 11 percent of the City's population. Consequently, hundreds of individuals -- nearly all of them African American -- were stopped on at least 10 separate occasions from 2010-2015. Indeed, seven African-American men were stopped more than 30 times during this period. [...]
During stops, BPD officers frequently pat down or frisk individuals as a matter of course, without identifying necessary grounds to believe that the person is armed and dangerous. And even where an initial frisk is justified, we found that officers often violate the Constitution by exceeding the frisk's permissible scope. We likewise found many instances where officers strip search individuals without legal justification. In some cases, officers performed degrading strip searches in public, prior to making an arrest and without grounds to believe that the searched individuals were concealing contraband on their bodies.
Mr. Sessions, I have lived in this city my whole life. No police officer has ever treated me like this, and I send my teenage sons out into the world knowing that no one strip searches a white kid in Sperry Topsiders. If my kids were black, I'd be terrified. Of the police.
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, for your unsubtle threats to hold our city hostage to your hatred of immigrants.
Collaboration between federal and local law enforcement is important, and jurisdictions whose law enforcement agencies accept funding from the Department are expected to adhere to the Department's grant conditions, as well as to all federal laws.
You want to use our police departments to round up undocumented immigrants who pose no harm to anyone, and you don't care if it further erodes the power of our police to keep the city safe. We're not spending our tax dollars to break up families. Not here.
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS, for your Reefer Madness obsession with marijuana. We have no interest in permanently ruining someone's job prospects because he gets caught with a dime bag. There is literally no evidence for your "gateway drug" theories. The War on Drugs was devastating to Baltimore, and you want to bring it back here?
FUCK YOU, JEFF SESSIONS for thinking that we're all just itching to get the Feds off our back so we can go back to the way things were. The death of Freddie Gray and the riots that followed broke our hearts. Do you think we came out the other side of that horror unchanged? It is no attack on law enforcement to say that the old way was a disaster. How dare you threaten the progress we're trying to make!
AND FUCK YOU JEFF SESSIONS, because this city will survive without the Consent Decree. We have a dozen colleges and universities, two law schools, two medical schools, the best hospital in the world, a port, and the safety net of the 95 BosNYWash corridor. More importantly, people here are not falling for your fake populism as an excuse to turn on each other. We are fighting like hell to get our house in order, and we will make it.
Federal Judge James K. Bredar will hear the Justice Department's Motion tomorrow, and is expected to enforce existing agreements regarding the Consent Decree. But whatever happens, Fuck You, Jeff Sessions. From the bottom of my Baltimore heart, Fuck You.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.