Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy

Good Morning!!

The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.

From the WaPo story:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

That solves that mystery then, right?

Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.

Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.

A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.

Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.

Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:

Those stories that Freddie Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury are totally bogus.

One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.

Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident. For more surgery procedures, check out nanoknife cancer surgery on for more information.

“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray by his vehicle accident lawyer.

“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore


But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.

“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”

And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”

F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”

From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’

Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.

In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.

In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.

Baltimore, Md -- 12/2/11 -- The rear of a vacant house, marked with

Baltimore, Md — 12/2/11 — The rear of a vacant house, marked with “X” on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer. Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Experts such as Baizer Kolar P.C. as well as Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.

As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.

Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.

TPM Cafe:

The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.

56 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The boy who was humiliated by his mother on live TV now has had his shame televised.

    The Clearly Embarrassed Baltimore Protester Who Got Smacked by Mom Speaks Out

    The poor kid might need to talk to Jon Ronson and maybe, if he can raise the funds.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I knew this already, but now it’s in the NYT:

    American Psychological Association Bolstered CIA Torture Program, Report Says.

  3. RalphB says:

    Anyone who believes that WaPo story is an idiot. No way in hell did he do that damage to himself!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Obviously. So why did they publish it without skepticism? The damage is done. Lots of idiots will spread this meme.

    • Fannie says:

      Of course not, he didn’t break his neck, and his larynx. They aren’t telling the truth.

  4. RalphB says:

    The headline is a bit misleading but Hillary’s position is just as reasoned and specific as you would expect.

    HuffPo: Hillary Clinton Agrees With Elizabeth Warren On Trade Dispute With Obama

    Hillary Clinton is opposed to a critical piece of the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would give corporations the right to sue sovereign nations over laws or regulations that could potentially curb their profits.

    The policy position is contained in her book Hard Choices, and was confirmed to HuffPost by a spokesperson for her presidential campaign. Obama and congressional Democrats are locked in a bitter public feud over TPP — a deal between 12 Pacific nations — with much of the controversy derived from concerns it will undermine regulatory standards.

  5. RalphB says:

    Shocking but …

    DKos: Washington Post struggles with the idea that Hillary Clinton is not the same person as her husband

    Bill Clinton was president in the 1990s. Hillary Clinton is running for president in the 2010s. It is more than 20 years later and she is a different person than he is. These concepts are apparently something of a challenge for Washington Post reporters Anne Gearan and Philip Rucker and their editors. …

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good one. Politico had a similar story this morning.

      And, hello — Hillary was “skeptical” of NAFTA way back when Bill was pushing it.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s the new video of the Freddie Gray arrest. It clearly shows that he can’t move his legs. The police have to lift him into the van, as he screams in pain.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Police have completed their report and turned it over to prosecutors. The commissioner revealed that the van made 4 stops during the 30 minute drive to the police station (which was only 5 minutes from the point of the arrest). One of the stops had not been revealed by the officers involved. At one point the stopped to put leg irons on Gray because he was being troublesome. I guess that was when he was asking for medical help and for his inhaler. He didn’t receive either.

      • RalphB says:

        Seems the only thing we know for sure at this point is that the police have been lying.

      • RalphB says:

        I think if we had good video of the takedown we might know how his back was broken. It looks like one of the cops got up off him when they started picking him up. If that cop jumped on him with a knee in his back, that may have been the initial injury. Then all that jerking around while getting him into the van and a rough ride probably finished him off.

  7. RalphB says:

    Josh can be really funny, although the Rand Paul part is true. 🙂

    TPM: Rand: I’m Looking Into Military Takeover

    Rand Paul (apparently a presidential candidate) says he’s looking into whether the US military is actually planning a military takeover of the Southwest.

    The White House insists it is not planning a military takeover of the country or Texas. But of course they’d say that.

    Consider a hypothetical. The Obamacare case is before the Supreme Court and the threat to red state Obamacare subsidies is looming. It would be naive to think the White House wouldn’t have some contingency plans in place for that eventuality. Quick surgical action under the cover of military exercises: go in, set up exchanges, stand up friendly government with domestic opposition, leave small residual force, get out.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Republican Religious Fanatics Pose A Much Bigger Threat To Our Country Than ISIS

    Read more at:

    If it were up to many Republicans, this country wouldn’t be governed by our Constitution, but by the Bible. Hell, not too long ago potential GOP presidential candidate and Fox News host Mike Huckabee literally said that Americans shouldn’t have to follow laws they felt were “ungodly.” In other words, if our Supreme Court rules that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, it’s okay for Americans to ignore that ruling – because the Bible says so. Their whole premise on same-sex marriage is based off the belief that the Bible dictates what is or isn’t a marriage. These are people who are literally trying to pass laws that makes discrimination against homosexuals legal. Then there’s always the issue of abortion and the control they want over what women do with their own bodies. As if pregnant women suddenly relinquishes her rights the moment she’s impregnated. Not only that, our Supreme Court has said that a woman has the right to have an abortion. This is yet another area of the private lives of Americans where these religious radicals feel they can force their religious views on those who do not share them. Even when you look at climate change, a good portion of those who deny it’s being caused by humans do so because they don’t believe we have the ability to cause such changes to our climate. To many of these people, any change in our climate is controlled by God, therefore it’s pointless for us to do anything to try to prevent the catastrophic disasters that will occur if we don’t start taking much better care of our planet.

  9. dakinikat says:

    This conspiracy theory is confusing the shit out of me.

    Right-wing lunatics think the military is planning to invade Texas. Here’s why.
    The Tea Party actually thinks the military is about to attack the Lone Star State. We wish we were making this up

  10. Fannie says:

    Hillary mentioned the work of Vice Provost Jonathan Bagger in 2013: “Pointed out only 6 miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park and Hollins Market, but there is a 20 year difference in the average life expectancy”.

    I looked at the towns, it’s about a 17 minute drive between the two. (Get back with this company is here).

    • Fannie says:

      Baltimore has a population of 63% African Americans. Yet 60% of the police departments in Baltimore are white officers. Maryland’s wealthy earn average $74,000, and medium income is $45,000. Approximately 23.8 % live below the poverty level, and that is set at 24,500 for a family of four. Let us not forget that a lot of anchors and politicians have apartments, or second homes in Maryland, and get quite the break in order that they can work in DC.

      When you look at the Roland Park area, it is well landscaped with trees, wide streets and every corner has those old fashion street light post. Most of the homes are old Victorians (going for about 699,000), and near by you’ll see photo’s of police department and see the firemen out shining their trucks. They have it all, a country club, golfing, hospitals, university, library. They are the suburban upper class.

      Hollins Market area, looks like one big scar. It is obvious that it lacks in the way of social conditions, economic opportunities, education, and employment. As a community of people they are trying to survive, trying to meet their life needs. It’s not hard to understand why ghettos are often “out of sight, out of mind”. I was sitting hear, and looking at the old Hollins Market, and I am reminded of my own dismal upbringing in the St. Thomas Projects. The psychology effects hits on every corner you are walking or living on. It’s the feeling of being stuck, being miserable because you are living in a low income area, and no future, no employment, and all of that adds up to SERIOUS health problem, which are cutting lives short by 20 years. The powers to be don’t seem to be helping much.

      Here is Hollins Market. It’s a historic!

  11. dakinikat says:

    Did you read this BB?

    King elaborated on the relationship of urban disorder to the struggle for full human rights and dignity for black American in his “The Other America” speech where he stated that:

    I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.

    If one persists in channeling Dr. King in these conversations about the urban unrest, “rioting”, and exhalations by the ghetto youthocracy (and others) in Baltimore and elsewhere across the United States in response to police thuggery, it should be done with great care.

    I saw your Time link… this is related.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Freddie Gray died after head ‘slammed into bolt in back of police van’, say reports

    Freddie Gray sustained his fatal injuries inside a police van when his head slammed into a bolt in the back of the vehicle, a Baltimore TV news station has reported after claiming to have received multiple briefings on a police report and the interim findings of the medical examiner’s office reviewing the 25-year-old’s death.

    An injury on Gray’s head is said to have matched a bolt in the back of the police van, according to ABC local news, who also reported that the only police officer involved in Gray’s arrest and detention yet to have provided an account to the police was the van’s driver.

    A spokesman for the Maryland medical examiner’s office refused to comment on the reports, stating that its investigation remained open.

    Many questions remain over Gray’s death, with some speculating he was subjected to a so-called “rough ride”, where a prisoner is not placed in a seatbelt and is then thrown violently around a vehicle being driven erratically.

    Police have conceded that Gray was not put in a seatbelt at the time he was placed in the vehicle, in violation of standard procedure.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    The witness whom the WaPo claimed said he thought Freddie Gray was banging his head on the wall on purpose to injure himself came forward to say that he never said any such thing. The interview was on Lawrence O’Donnell. It was quite interesting and even humorous. Watch it if you haven’t already.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Jeb Bush is a big fan of Charles Murray’s books. That is going to come back to haunt him.

  15. It seems to be the normal thing for victims in cases like these to be blamed and to eventually be called, “Thugs” or worse.