If people didn’t realize it before now, they need to open their eyes and see that racism, bigotry and discrimination are incredibly expensive, and no community can afford to absorb such avoidable costs.
The point is brought home with the $6.4 million settlement that Baltimore reached with the family of Freddie Gray on Tuesday. Gray, 25, was the black man who mysteriously suffered a fatal spinal chord injury after he was picked up by police in April, handcuffed and shackled, and then transported in a police van.
Gray was one of a growing number of unarmed black males who have been killed by police in the last two years. The Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of the Aug. 9, 2014, police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., brought attention to the deaths of Gray and other African Americans.
Gray’s death led to protests and violence in Baltimore with businesses being damaged and looted. Gray didn’t have to die, and the costly damage from the violence certainly was avoidable, too. The same could be said in Ferguson, which has gone through waves of violent protests after Brown was killed, when the state grand jury announced in November that it would not seek charges against then-Officer Darren Wilson and last month during the anniversary of Brown’s death.
From the Baltimore settlement, the city of is accepting all civil liability in Gray’s arrest and death. But the city does not acknowledge any wrongdoing from police, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Six Baltimore police officers still face charges in the homicide.
The wrongful death settlement in Baltimore follows the $5.9 million settlement reached in July by the family of Eric Garner with New York. Police stopped Garner outside a Staten Island store, saying they thought he was selling untaxed cigarettes. Police put Garner in a choke hold, which contributed to his death.
The whole thing was caught on cellphone video. Before Garner passed out, he was recorded repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” That statement became part of the protests in the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.