Baltimore reacts to Caesar Goodson's acquittal in the death of Freddie Gray

City Paper

Yesterday Officer Caesar Goodson, one of the six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death and the one who faced the most serious charge—second-degree depraved heart murder—was acquitted of all charges.

In front of the courthouse, 20 or so protesters (far outnumbered by media) reacted with a hushed resignation. When word spread that Goodson wouldn't be convicted, the scene outside the courthouse was eerily quiet. Reactions, rallies, and public statements to the Goodson verdict continued throughout the day.

At 2 p.m., Lt. Gene Ryan, President of the Fraternal Order of Police for Baltimore City spoke at the organization's headquarters. "We are very pleased and extremely grateful that [Barry] Judge Williams has found officer Caesar Goodson not guilty of all charges," he said. "As anticipated, the facts of this case speak for themselves. Officer Goodson was not at fault."

In light of Goodson dodging a conviction the most serious charges, Ryan urged State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to "reconsider her malicious prosecution against the remaining four officers." He added: "To continue this travesty is an insult to the tax-paying citizens of Baltimore who, at the end of the day, bear the full burden of the enormous cost of these trials that have no merit and continue to divide our city."

Ryan surmised that the States Attorney's Office is playing a game of politics that makes it hard for police officers to do their jobs, and he wants the city to be a safe place to live and work.

Then, at 6 p.m. the People's Power Assembly (PPA) held a demonstration at the corner of North Pennsylvania avenues. There, local and national media once again outnumbered activists and those who live in the community. A line of police guarded the rebuilt CVS from a line of news cameras mounted on tripods and people passing by. Community members, along with the PPA, who had also been present in front of the courthouse earlier in the day, expressed their dissatisfaction with the verdict as well as the media’s presence.

Those at the small rally pointed out that the media isn't around every day to cover what happens in areas like West Baltimore and insisted that many of the people here weren't trying to help the community beyond symbolic support of a few chants and marches. Protesters adopted a measured approach, determined to counter the perceived "sensationalized" approach that the media was taking.

Many of the police present weren't in full uniform, instead wearing more casual polo shirts. The interactions with the community seemed positive though a bit rehearsed. At one point, Lt. Melvin Russell seemed to lead people, especially reporters desperate for visuals, away from the protest and toward a mobile basketball goal that was set up behind the Enoch Pratt Library. There, police played basketball, did the running man, hula-hooped, and ate snowballs with children.

Community members and activists continued to question why the police had organized a photo-op for media in an attempt to paint the city as one that has healed a year after the uprising. One member of the community who attended joked that it looked like a police-organized party for Goodson because he got off.

Additional reporting by Brandon Soderberg

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