Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Steve Malzberg Show | Michael Meyers | Baltimore | Anthony Batts | Freddie Gray

Civil Rights Leader Meyers: 'Police Cannot Investigate Police'

By    |   Monday, 27 April 2015 03:14 PM

The Baltimore police chief's initial reaction to video of a man who screams in apparent agony during an arrest — and who later died, with his spine nearly severed — proves that law enforcement agencies cannot be relied on to police themselves, says civil rights activist and writer Michael Meyers.

"The problem is that the investigation does not have any credibility," Meyers, president of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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Meyers on Friday accused Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts of refusing to see wrongdoing in a bystander video of the April 12 arrest of Freddie Gray, whose death one week later has become the latest to trigger unrest over policing.

"In New York, at least, we have a saying: 'See something, say something," said Meyers, a contributing New York Daily News columnist.

"In Baltimore," he said, "they have a police commissioner who watches a video — the same video you and I are seeing of the arrest of the man who was writhing in pain as they're arresting him, about to put him in the police van — and here's a police commissioner, doesn't see anything."

Batts said on Wednesday: "The officers that I saw there were not out of control. They weren’t causing him any pain in that filming."

"This police commissioner in Baltimore is not fit," Meyers said in response. "He is either too deaf, too blind, or too dumb to be the police chief of a major urban city."

Batts clarified his position later on Friday, saying that Gray, 25, should have received medical attention immediately. He rejected calls for his resignation and said the investigation continued.

Meyers agreed that we "don't know" what happened to Gray before and after the video.

"But I can tell you one thing, based on experience: police cannot investigate police," he said. "I keep saying the same thing over and over again with these incidents: Why don't we get leadership from the state government? Why doesn't the governor and the state attorney general and others immediately intercede and appoint a special prosecutor? That's the only way you're going to get a credible investigation."

Meyers also weighed in on a city council member's proposal in New York to decriminalize minor offenses such as public urination and subway turnstile-jumping — in contradiction of the "broken windows" theory of policing that targets non-violent, quality-of-life offenses. The council proposal has drawn criticism from both the police commissioner and mayor.

Meyers staked out a middle ground.

"You can't criminalize every social problem," he said. "You can't criminalize every low-status person who can't find the bathroom — or middle-class kid, for that manner."

"Now, I don't consider jumping the turnstile to be something that should be decriminalized — no, because that's theft," he said. "But … I keep my mind open. There must be some ranges of certain offenses that don't need a criminal sanction."

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The Baltimore police chief's initial reaction to video of a man who screams in apparent agony during an arrest — and who later died — proves that law enforcement agencies cannot be relied on to police themselves, says civil rights activist Michael Meyers.
Michael Meyers, Baltimore, Anthony Batts, Freddie Gray
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2015-14-27
Monday, 27 April 2015 03:14 PM
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