The DOJ quite literally tells police where the limits of their power lie… [Loretta] Lynch should start there by not always taking the cops’ side in the place where, legally speaking, it may make the most difference. True, asthe Times notes, the conflict of interest is codified by the DOJ’s oversight of agencies like the FBI. But not only does Lynch understand there are there many instances in which cops are in the wrong, she gets that we should be administering real discipline for those wrongs. Suspensions with pay preserve due process, certainly, but with few exceptions that has become the limit of punishment for often reckless, lethal acts committed largely against people of color by law enforcement.
Protesters are on the streets of Baltimore pleading for that mere visibility, in the hope that the expression of their anger and hurt will help this problem become a higher priority. A new Baltimore Sun investigation shows that Gray’s fate was hardly unique in the city. Still, the nation is more concerned about high school kids throwing rocks at the police who tear-gas them (as they did Monday near Baltimore’s Mondawmin Mall) and have clearly targeted those who look like them. Media and the public keep worrying more about smashed police car windows than crushed voice boxes. We need to grasp the notion that police are not above reproach, or the law itself—and we now have an attorney general whose own experience affirms that. If Lynch can focus on making that manifest on a national level, we may have fewer Freddie Grays.