Activist Zachary Murray says police violence is a symptom of a larger problem in Baltimore
STEPHEN JANIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, TRNN: Hello, my name is Stephen Janis. I’m reporting for The Real News Network in Baltimore. In the wake of indictments of six police officers who were involved in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray. We’re talking to an activist, Zach–I’m sorry, Murray. ZACH MURRAY: Murray. JANIS: Zach Murray, who is here, and we’re getting his response to the verdict. So what’s your response just off the bat from the verdict? MURRAY: Well, the important thin for folks to realize is that it’s not a verdict, it’s an indictment. JANIS: Sorry, verdict. Indictment. MURRAY: It means the real work has to be done. It means jury selection. It means even the location, right, which could be potentially changed because I’m sure the police are going to attempt to argue that there’s a bias in the city, that apparently doesn’t exist in Montgomery County or Washington County, or any other places where people live. And so the real work has to be done now. And this is not anything that’s satisfying to me, because this is what should be happening all the time. When Tyrone West was murdered, he was 44 years old, in 2013, the cops should have been immediately arrested and charged with a crime. That did not happen. So we can’t be satisfied with one simple example of justice, right? One example of justice that people obviously here in Baltimore fought hard for, but we can’t be satisfied until all police officers who are killer cops are indicted with the crimes and ultimately charged for the crimes that they committed. JANIS: Yeah, it’s true. In Anthony Anderson’s case the officers weren’t indicted. Tyrone West, no indictment. This has been a long history. What was different this time, you think? MURRAY: What was different this time is the young people. The young people rose up, and they said that they’re frustrated with this city, they’re frustrated with this mayor who is grossly incompetent, they’re frustrated with the politicians who have failed us over and over again. They rose up and they instilled fear in these people that moved them to do this. I think if people were as quiet as they had been during Anthony Anderson’s case or during Tyrone West’s case we wouldn’t see the justice. The difference in this situation was the young people, who in my opinion were incited by the police, who were incited by the presence of the National Guard in their communities, rose up and said not this time. JANIS: Do you think it’s time to look into some of those cases? I mean, there’s a lot of similarities in the Anthony Anderson and in the Tyrone West case. Is it time for the political leadership to look into those cases again? MURRAY: I mean, of course. But it’s time really, ultimately, for them to look into the police department as a whole. There are communities across the country who have federal government, FBI, Department of Justice cases against them that bring some attention to what’s happening in terms of the corruption. I think of Oakland and the Riders Case in 2001 where the federal government stepped in and has created steps–I mean ultimately that’s very short of reform, even. But what needs to happen is a holistic change to the police department here in the city of Baltimore. We have the second-largest police force per capita in the country and it has done nothing to bring down crime. It’s done nothing but criminalize whole communities of people, and that has to change. JANIS: So going forward, what are your plans? What are the plans of people who are, what’s going to happen in the future? MURRAY: Yeah, my plan is to continue to work with young people, as a young person. And to continue to stand up and find out ways to do direct action that lets the system know that we will not accept this. But I think more importantly is we can’t just look at police violence, although that is what has lit the fire here in Baltimore and in Ferguson. We have to look at the whole situation here. Our mayor closed 20 recreation centers in one year. She claims that she opened three, but that’s on the backs of 20 recreation centers that closed. So when you ask the question about where the youth are supposed to go after school, it’s quite clear. Nowhere. Because there’s not type of system of support for young people in this city, and so we have to begin to look at it very holistically. Police violence is one symptom of a much larger problem here in Baltimore. JANIS: Okay, great. MURRAY: Thank you. Thank you. JANIS: This is Stephen Janis reporting for The Real News Network in the wake of the indictment of six officers. I’m speaking to activists about what they plan to do, and their reaction to the indictments. Thank you.
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