There are some who are asking, “Why did Freddie Run?” It may be that Freddie feared being arrested for a drug charge and spending a bit of time in the county jail. The Freddie Gray arrest record is as long as my arm.
According to recently released records, Gray has 19 arrests for narcotics.
You can view the record here.
Ultimately, no drugs were found on Gray. All that was found on Gray was a small knife, that depending on your source, was of a legal length. Certainly, Gray’s extensive involvement with the police is one reason he may have bolted at the sight of the PO-PO.
Don’t run when the police are around, especially if you are Black, would be one of many lessons to be gleaned from this tragedy. However, I believe there is something far more substantive to be learned.
Freddie Gray’s life was defined (in part) by the war on drugs. Over the last eight years, Gray was arrested 19 times for involvement with narcotics. Absent from his record is any violent crime and yet he lies dead mainly because this nation continues to pour dollars and man hours into a war on drugs that is both a failure and a succubus, draining the life out of poor communities.
Imagine, if this nation decided that the way to fight drugs and drug addiction is to legalize it, tax it, and regulate it in the same way the government does tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs. Imagine too, that as a nation we decided to ensure that there are beds in rehabilitation centers for those intent on getting clean. Imagine that rather than sweeping through Black communities in search of young black men to arrest for non-violent crimes, we directed those dollars and man hours to health programs, mentoring, and educational tutoring. (My God, I sound like a Liberal!) The war on drugs remains the primary reason police officers interact with young, black men and thus the primary author of police violence with black men.
But for this irrational need to police “illegal” narcotics, Freddie Gray would be alive and the streets of Baltimore would be quiet.