Wandering Eye: Officer on trial in Freddie Gray case speaks, Davis weighs in on Batts, and more

One of the cops who arrested Freddie Gray was just like him until his mother got a better job and moved him to a better neighborhood. That's the story The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher tells in a profile of William Porter, one of the six Baltimore officers charged in Freddie Gray's death. In telling his story to the reporter, Porter becomes the first of the accused to speak publicly—although he does not say anything about the events that led to Gray's death in the back of a police van. The parallels between the two men, who were about the same age, are striking: "Each was named after his father," Fletcher writes. "Each was raised by a single mother who went to court seeking child support. For about a decade after their births in 1989, they lived in the same struggling West Baltimore community, where both their mothers said they were diagnosed with dangerous levels of lead in their blood." Gray was lead poisoned and, reportedly, suffered intellectual deficits from it. Porter, Fletcher reports, "seemed to be of normal intelligence," although he got kicked out of school for acting out. Things turned around for Porter when his mother bought a house in "a middle-class North Baltimore neighborhood." She also got him in with the police athletic league, where cops took him under their wing. None of that happened for Freddie Gray. Porter doesn't seem to understand how circumstances beyond their control shaped his and Gray's lives. "If I had made different choices, I would have been Freddie Gray," Porter says in the Post story. "If he had made different choices, he could have been an Officer Porter." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

The Washington Post has a long feature looking at the decline of car culture in America. And of course the reason young people don't care about cars anymore is their damn phones! "Instead of Ford versus Chevy, it's Apple versus Android, and instead of customizing their ride, they customize their phones with covers and apps," says Mark Lizewskie, executive director of the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But there really is something to this whole cars-are-fading-out thing. Only half of millennials bother to get their driver's licenses by age 18, The Post reports. Americans as a whole drive fewer miles than they used to. More people are living in cities, and owning, driving, and parking a car in an urban environment can be more trouble than it's worth. The auto industry tells the Post that this is really about the economy. Millennials in particular were hit hard by the recession, and now that the economy is recovering and more of them are getting good jobs, auto sales are up 4 percent. Here's another thing with those pesky millennials, though: They have student debt. The Post talked with one 22-year-old woman who said it seemed "almost irresponsible to take out a car loan when we're either looking for work or getting established." (Brandon Weigel)

 

Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis is now weighing in on the comments of his predecessor, Anthony Batts, who said officers "took a knee" and let crime rates go up after the unrest in April. "I'm proud of them," Davis said. "They're working hard." He went on to say, "police officers generally, whether it's in Baltimore or elsewhere, take offense to that type of simplistic statement." Batts felt the need to clarify that he was talking about his own time as commissioner. "I referenced them taking a knee during the tail end of my tenure. I can't speak for Davis' term," he told The Sun. "I haven't been connected to the department nor have been keeping up with the department under his tenure." Gene Ryan, the president of FOP 3, the union representing Baltimore's police officers, took exception to Batts' words. "Officers did not 'take a knee,'" he said in a statement. "He is right that our members felt unsupported by leadership, though." Davis may have felt the need to stand up for his force, but that doesn't make Batts' comments any less shocking, or any less true. (Brandon Weigel)

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