Day 18 - Last Words: Freddie Gray Jr.

Day 18 - Last Words: Freddie Gray Jr.

"I can't breathe."

Freddie Gray Jr., 1989-2015

The morning of April 12, 2015, three Baltimore police officers, Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Garrett E. Miller, were patrolling near the Gilmor Homes housing project when they "made eye contact” with Freddie Gray. Gray fled on foot and the officers gave chase, later arresting him for possession of a spring-assisted switch blade knife. Gray was apprehended and, according to Miller, taken into custody without the use of force.  

Two bystanders captured Gray's arrest with video recordings, which show Gray screaming in pain and being dragged to a police van by the officers. The van, driven by Officer Caesar Goodson Jr.  stopped six times before the officers called paramedics to take Gray to the hospital. On the fourth stop Gray said to Officer William G. Porter, “I can’t breathe.” 

Gray lapsed into a coma with three fractured vertebrae, injuries to his voice box and his spine 80% severed around his neck. During the following week Gray never regained consciousness. He died on April 19, 2015. In September 2015 the city of Baltimore agreed to pay $6.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the relatives of Freddie Gray.

Sources: Baltimore Sun, Washington Post

“It is, briefly, an insult to my intelligence, and to the intelligence of any black person, to ask me to believe that the most powerful nation in the world is unable to do anything to make the lives of its black citizens less appalling. … It is not unable to do it; it is only unwilling to do it.”
— James Baldwin, “Black Power,” 1968

I was told that America is a great and powerful nation. I do not doubt it, but "great" and "powerful" are not always good traits. After all, Pharaoh was both of those things, once. Will this country go on witnessing the fragile lives of its black citizens? Will we continue in our unwillingness to act? Will we continue in our unwillingness to put our power and greatness into the betterment of our most vulnerable people?  

Lord, start at the lowest level. Make the residents and citizens of this country a people of common power who give orders for the release of the captives and the liberation of the oppressed.

Lord, occupy the oft-overlooked middle. Make the city, county, and state representatives of this country a people of shared commitment to the humanity of all people and the care of all your creation.

Lord, leave no stone unturned. Make the most powerful leaders of this country a people of vision who enact laws, policies, and customs that protect the lives of its black citizens.

We pray all of these things, in the name of the one whose power is made perfect in weakness, and whose glory is the way of the cross. Amen.
Day 19 - First Steps: Hold

Day 19 - First Steps: Hold

Day 17 - First Steps: Organize

Day 17 - First Steps: Organize