Hours of video evidence and multiple witnesses planned in prosecution of man who faces misdemeanor charges for joining in Freddie Gray uprising
TAYA GRAHAM, TRNN: This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland. I’m here in front of the Mitchell Courthouse where Philadelphia resident Alkebulan Marcus is being tried for his actions while protesting during the Freddie Gray uprising. Marcus is being charged with one count of disorderly conduct, one count of failure to obey, and one count of resisting or interfering with arrest. After today’s pretrial motion which set the date for the trial for Friday, we spoke with defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon and his client, Alkebulan Marcus. We asked them about the impact of a potential three-day trial for minor charges on the rights of protesters, particularly in Baltimore, where residents continue to voice their concerns about aggressive policing, poverty, and inequities in the city. JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: Talk about your mood and your thoughts today, the day of the pretrial hearings for your case. ALKEBULAN MARCUS: Being here reminds me of, like, when I was here. Bringing back all that frustration, that little bit of anger that I had, you know. It was like, you know, it’s bringing it back. It’s like, looking at a system that beat on us. And it’s like when we try to at least defend ourselves a tad bit, we get this. It’s more oppression. It’s like me writing my name on the board and you being my bully. And you keep erasing my name off the board now, and I try to stand up and I ask you to stop. You know, it’s like–you know, more backlash. NOOR: When we talked earlier, saying how almost everyone else you got locked up with, they were all African-American, there was only one other white person in that jail cell. MARCUS: I mean when you think about it, you know, white people don’t really got nothing to riot over. It’s white privilege. It’s just, I don’t got–you guys don’t got to do that. It’s not–it’s impossible. So of course the majority black people that got arrested. They were not there to protect, you know, us. The property, they’re there to protect white Americans think of peace. And we disrupted that, I guess, by being, you know, angry. NOOR: All the resources and effort the state’s attorney’s office is using to go after your client, at one point they had four attorneys in there. In the courtroom. J. WYNDAL GORDON: Well you know, you know. Obviously everyone’s trying to make a statement from these prosecutions. Not only of Mr. Marcus but from other individuals. For me it’s just par for the course. I’m used to being in cases where they bring in two and four attorneys to prosecute a case against one of my clients. So this is just, this is just another day. It’s par for the course, really. NOOR: And talk more about what you mean here, make an example of your client. GORDON: Well, because of the Freddie Gray situation I think there is a need to send a message that certain types of protesting will not be allowed. The problem is that they conflated peaceful protesters with those protesters who were there to disrupt and cause some destruction to the city, whereby my client wasn’t one of those protesters, necessarily. And I’m not really prepared to criticize her for her prosecutions. My problem, my criticism, actually goes to the police. The police created a report that was inaccurate, maintained a lot of inconsistencies and outright lies, to a certain extent. And so the prosecutor’s office barely goes, takes at face value what they’re saying. So the onus or the burden or the responsibility for these prosecutions really lands in the hands of the police department moreso than the prosecutor’s office. Well, they had hours and hours of footage of instances that didn’t involve my clients or instances that may have speciously involved my client, but it would be inadmissible on another basis, such as–even if you assume that what they have is true it’d be inadmissible as a prior bad act. And its probative value would be far outweighed by its prejudicial impact, and probably I would argue to keep it out of the, out of the eyesight of the jury anyway. But I think that they really haven’t done that great a job of attempting to identify my client in the video. STEPHEN JANIS, TRNN: Did the prosecutors offer any kind of plea deal, or anything in this–. GORDON: We had a very, what I believe to be a generous offer across the street. And so we’re going to take our time to really discuss that with my client and determine whether or not that may be the best route to go, in light of the fact that this case is supposed to now last until Tuesday. And for the jeopardy that was, my client was facing across the street, which made probation, unsupervised, and a little community service, which seems apropos under the circumstances to allow him to return to his way of life. That might be something that we may reconsider. JANIS: So they offered unsupervised probation? GORDON: Unsupervised probation, yeah. Yeah. JANIS: So you might take that. GORDON: Well, we’re, we have to consider all things. So nothing is off the table, everything is on the table. And we have to decide whether or not it’s worth putting my client through days and days of jeopardy when something, there’s a bird in the hand across the street that, you know, may prove to be fruitful. He doesn’t have any real continued business in Baltimore City, and he doesn’t have to return if he doesn’t necessarily want to. So, so we have to think about that. JANIS: Cash bail is pretty punitive, and it’s something they’ve been using. Talk about your client in terms of why they gave him cash bail, and what it means. GORDON: Cash bail makes it very difficult to make bail. Nobody walks around with $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 in cash that they can just put up and let the court hold and lose all the interest from it. I mean, and so when you have a bail that’s say, $10,000-$20,000 in cash. That’s virtually a no bail to those individuals who can’t afford it, you know what I mean? JANIS: And in his case, I mean, he can’t use bail bondsmen, put up property, anything, right? GORDON: Right. If you don’t have property bail bondsmen will not work for you, because they’re requiring the actual cash deposit to be left with the court. So it’s very, it’s very, very difficult to overcome when you’re of modest means.
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