THE BLOG

Baltimore Rising: How the Fight of an Abandoned City Is Challenging America's Integrity

05/04/2015 06:15 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2016

With charges swiftly filed against the six Baltimore Police officers involved in the tragic death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, one of America's most aggressive fights for justice has reached a slight moment of stillness.

Following State Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby's passionate and definitive declaration of wrongdoing and negligence by law enforcement, as autopsy results ruled Gray's death a homicide, glimpses of hope have broken through thick clouds of looming uncertainty.

Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the van that transported Gray, faces both second-degree "depraved heart" murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, indicating he expressed indifference to human life.

Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, along with officers William G. Porter, Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller were also charged with manslaughter, in addition to assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

For a vastly large fraction of the county that has witnessed failed indictments of police officers in several similar cases over the past year -- igniting marches, rallies, protests and violent outbursts -- the decision to prosecute the six officers is an overdue acknowledgment of ongoing police brutality seemingly unchallenged by both local and federal government.

Now, millions across the country are anxiously awaiting the forthcoming trial, shifting attention to how the fearless Mosby and her team strategically build a case to secure a conviction.

"What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth," stated President Obama in response to the unrest in Baltimore, "that's what people around the country expect."

This truth that President Obama references takes many forms -- from the extensive media coverage and public portrayal of the city, to the realities surrounding the existing case.

Since the uprising began flooding headlines, reports seemed to follow suit with Ferguson and New York, labeling looters and activists as a genuine threat to authorities, classifying protests as disgruntled efforts to violently seek vengeance against the police. Yet, what truly developed was a collective uniting with a shared focus to reshape the landscape of Baltimore, and America at large.

Standing in solidarity, multiple gangs -- including the Bloods, Crips and Black Guerilla Family - have forged a truce in support of bringing justice and change to Baltimore. Community members have lifted their voices in opposition to how the people of Baltimore are being depicted as senseless rebels combating without purpose. Despite criticism for her words towards the use of violence, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has also taken a stand with her city to assure the treacherous tides of civil unrest are rightfully calmed by upstanding legal action.

Even though days of heated protests have sparked enough national conversation to demand accountability for Gray's killing, one inescapable hurdle stands firmly in front of the people of Baltimore.

Despite poetic mantras championing the American Dream and romanticized ideas of equality regarding race, gender and sexuality -- laws were not instituted to protect or factor morality. While society is perceivably managed by a general code of ethics, America's legal system is not structured to function in the same manner.

Consequently, socioeconomic challenges that create the troublesome conditions that define suffering inner cities like Baltimore rarely raise a flag of consideration in the courtroom. More so, in instances of police brutality or misconduct, such elements are ignored.

As a result, attempting to express the deeper symptoms that fuel such injustice, or place painfully personal outrage through the machine of America's legal system continues to produce disappointing rulings, failing to shift the institutional paradigm that leaves the lives of people like Freddie Gray and their communities silenced and underserved at every level.

Beyond convicting the 6 officers of criminal charges and inspiring necessary police reform -- the greater victory will be seeing governing officials and a faulted legal system clearly adhere to moral and ethical principles, instead of defaulting to a tradition that boasts a shameful track record of failing to defend the underprivileged and disenfranchised.

Baltimore is just one of many cities in the United States frequently battling severe poverty, lack of opportunity and minimal resources. Serving justice in the case of Freddie Gray will not only begin to restore some small belief in the promises that all lives matter, it will mark a much needed acknowledgement that this country is inflicted with self-destructive character flaws that will no longer be overlooked or dismissed.