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Baltimore Bloc and Advancement Project Respond to Acquittal of Officer Edward Nero

BALTIMORE – After a five-day bench trial, Judge Barry Williams acquitted Baltimore police officer Edward Nero of all charges related to the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Black man who died April 19, 2015 after complications related to spinal injuries. Nero was charged with a total of four misdemeanors including second degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. The prosecutor, Gray’s family and their attorney, along with community members and allies, argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray unjustly, and that he recklessly endangered Gray’s life by putting him in the police wagon without a seat belt. The first of six officers involved with the case, William Porter, was released after his December trial ended in a hung jury. Baltimore Bloc, a grassroots coalition of families, communities and allies committed to fighting for equity and justice in Baltimore, collaborated with Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization, to release the following statement:

“Today’s verdict is upsetting, but not at all surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to police brutality cases all over the country or to anyone who has been paying attention to Marilyn Mosby’s office,” said Baltimore BLOC. “We do not believe it was Mosby’s intent to seek justice for Freddie Gray; truly doing so would mean upsetting the status quo in which she is all too comfortable, and it would mean risking her office’s relationship with the corrupt and brutal Baltimore Police Department. The type of illegal arrest that led to Freddie Gray’s death is the same type of arrest that leads to Mosby’s office prosecuting people like Freddie Gray every day. We do not expect justice for Freddie or for Baltimore to come from a prosecutor’s office or a courtroom.”

“After watching William Porter’s trial end in a hung jury, we are not surprised to see Nero acquitted of all four charges. We know the fight for justice for Freddie Gray will not be easily won. It’s not over,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project. “Freddie Gray paid the ultimate price for being a young, Black man in a society that doesn’t value Black life, and the system that took his life is the same system that let Nero walk free today. As we reform the criminal justice system across the country, there must be sweeping changes in the way police interact with people of color. The policies, practices and culture of ‘rough rides,’ ‘jump outs’ and ‘stop and frisk’ that allow police brutality to happen must be ended. The power and privilege of the badge is being distorted by a slew of acquittals of law enforcement officers for killing Black people. Law enforcement officers must be held accountable for their actions. The duty to protect and serve is requires that they value the humanity of Black people.”

For more information or to speak with leaders of Baltimore Bloc, please contact Chelsea Fuller, cfuller@advancementproject.org.

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Baltimore Bloc is a grassroots collective of friends, families and neighborhoods united to rebuild communities & organize for justice.

Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.

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