Fox News host Todd Starnes’ immediate reaction to the breaking news that all six officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore was to accuse State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby of declaring war on law enforcement.
This is the refrain of many people who have a hard time admitting that we have a systemic problem of racial bias within all tiers of our justice system.
But the real question is why would anyone defend police officers who are not upholding the law? These bad actors do not reflect on all law enforcement. The few bad actors stain the name of all of the hard working police in this country. For that reason, everyone should want to weed out the bad actors and hold them accountable.
The highest charge against the officers is that of second-degree depraved heart murder. According to Wikipedia, depraved heart murder is also known as “depraved-indifference murder”. This “demonstrates a ‘callous disregard for human life’ and results in death.”
In what world does holding an officer/officers accountable for having a callous disregard for human life equal “declaring war”? If Starnes feels that being asked to behave lawfully is an act of war, he has other problems.
Starnes might also want to realize that the State’s Attorney is law enforcement. She is responsible for upholding the law. The State’s Attorney repeatedly said that this was not an indictment of the Baltimore Police Department, but of the six officers charged in this case.
Mosby used an independent investigation in order to determine the facts, instead of leaving it up to the police to investigate their fellow officers.
There is no excuse for turning these charges around on the prosecutor and claiming victimization by whining that being held to the law is an act of war. The point of these charges is that everyone is expected to uphold the law, including the police. They are, in fact, supposed to be setting the standards for upholding the law.
For every bad police action getting headlines right now, the majority of police officers are trying their best to honor the public trust and keep the peace, often under trying circumstances. Instead of defending the few bad actors, which implies an identification with their actions, it makes more sense to hold everyone accountable to the same standards.
Since most police do not treat citizens with callous disregard for their life, there is no reason to view these charges as anything other than the result of an independent investigation. The justice system will work its way through these charges just as it does for every person charged with a crime; the officers are entitled to due process just as anyone else is.
By Starnes’ standards, law enforcement is declaring war on every person ever charged with a crime. So to follow through with his logic, everyone who has been charged with a crime should respond that the police are declaring an act of war on everyone who shares something in common with them. Yeah, that’s nuts.
Todd Starnes’ accusation is irresponsible at best. He has no evidence to suggest these charges are unwarranted, but that didn’t stop him from inflaming the situation with the sort of self-pity often seen in people of privilege when they are held accountable for their actions.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.