The Protesters Got Us the Indictment, Says Congressman
Elijah Cummings, whose district includes half of Baltimore City, says this is a great day for Baltimore City
STEPHEN JANIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, TRNN: Hello. My name is Stephen Janis, I’m a reporter for The Real News Network. We are in front of City Hall in Baltimore, Maryland reporting shortly after indictments announced against six officers. And just this moment Congressman Elijah Cummings gave an emotional press conference talking about his response to the indictment of the officers and the future of policing in Baltimore.
CONGRESSMAN ELIJAH CUMMINGS: This morning at 7:00 I said on one of the national networks that I would trust whatever Marilyn Mosby did. I didn’t know that a decision would be coming down today. And I said this morning that I believe in her integrity, her pursuit of excellence, the fact that she is an outstanding lawyer, and that she has been elected by the people of our great city. And I said that I believed that what she would do is she would take all the information she had already gathered and look at it very carefully. And if she thought that there was any additional information that was needed, that she knew that she had the full force of not only the Baltimore City Police Department but of the federal government behind her.
And the other thing that I said was this. That I believe with all my heart that she would take the facts once she did all the research she needed to do, size it up with the law, and make the right decision. And I said this morning before I knew any of this that whatever her decision would be, because of her integrity and the fact that I believe in her, that I would accept that decision. [Applause]
But I said something else. I said something else. And I said this at Freddie Gray’s funeral. I said, you know, did you see him? Did anybody see this man? Did they see this man who was a mother’s child? Did they see this man who was just trying to get through life? Did they see him as a human being? And I have come here today to thank God that Marilyn Mosby and her team saw him. Saw him.
The process has started. That’s the main thing, the process has started. So many people in the neighborhoods that you have been filming over the last few days–I think somebody said a little bit earlier, Bishop Thomas I think said it, they’ve never seen a victory. They’ve never seen a victory. And they had begun to believe that the system could not work for them. So many of them have felt like the system had worked against them. And so again, we are beginning the process.
And one other thing that I said this morning. I said that as we approach the evening of our lives, many of us, we want to make sure that our children have a better morning. And so I want to thank everybody. I want to thank Bishop Walter Scott Thomas, all the members of the clergy, all the community leaders and organizations, our elected officials, for coming together to stand with our children. But most important, to hear them. To hear them.
And so from here on we’ll, again, Ms. Mosby will take the case from here. I’m sure that this investigation will still be ongoing, that is not unusual. And the fact is, is that it is a new day in our city.
But let me leave you with this: I don’t want anybody to be confused that the issues of police and community is one part of a broader set of issues. Our children need to be properly educated. They need to be trained in certain areas so they can get jobs, so that they can be functional. And so they can have equal chance to opportunity. And so as I close out, I just want to say this. This is a great day. This is a great day, and I think we need to realize that. Thank you.
PRESS: Congressman, did we witness history today in your mind? And is there a role for Congress and the federal government to use Baltimore as a model and example? Did we witness history?
CUMMINGS: I think we–I’m going to caution everybody, this is the beginning of a process. We did witness history in one respect, and that is so often these things happen and nothing happens. And I think it’s sending–and we witness history, and this, this is the main–our children, they went out there and protested, for the most part, peacefully. But they had to protest in order to get here. And they, and this creates a faith in them.
They–I mean, I had a young man that said to me just last night, a 16-year-old, 16 years old. He said Congressman, I love you, but I feel like I’m in a casket, crawling and clawing to get out. Just trying to get out. Just trying to be somebody. So we got, still got work to do. But yeah, I think this is–and let it be known that this is national. I’ve said it before, these things can happen anywhere. And so with that, I think a message has been sent by our State’s Attorney. That she treasures every life. That she values every person.
And so let the wheels of justice begin to roll, and it’s good that they are rolling as opposed to standing still.
PRESS: Congressman, with the charges against the officer in North Charleston a couple weeks ago and now these charges against these officers, do you see a shift in the tide where these officers are going to be held accountable for their actions?
CUMMINGS: I’ve said many times that we need to establish a new normal. See, a lot of times we think that we are in a normal situation, but it’s a thing of mutual respect. Our policemen, and they are, most of them are great. And they know that–they know themselves. I’ve talked to policemen. I mean, a lot. And they tell me themselves that there are certain police that should not be on the force. And so they’re going to have to help us weed out those folks so that they can be the elite of the elite.
One of the things that I’m determined to do, and I’m hoping that we’re able to do, is make Baltimore a model for the nation. A model for the nation. We don’t have to follow anybody. We can set the model. I believe that we set the model when we were at Pennsylvania and North, going out and talking to people. And a lot of the folks that we talked to, they just simply wanted to know that you hear them, and you see them, and you love them and you respect them. And they want to live in dignity. And they want to see their futures. They want to see their–and they want somebody to see them.
Last but not least, and then I’m closing. When I thought about Freddie, I could not help but think about my own childhood. And I looked at him in that casket and I said to myself, it was a young man just trying to exist. Trying to exist. And so hopefully now with this, our city can begin to heal, to come together. Policemen will look–and women will look at their jobs from a different standpoint. And realize that they are here to protect and serve. And by the way, and that our community must respect them. But it’s–and it’s got to be a mutual respect thing. Because let me tell you, the police need us as a community, and we need them.
Thank you very much.
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