In case you’ve missed national news over the past two weeks, Marilyn J. Mosby is the recently elected State’s Attorney for Baltimore, Maryland. She is a shero, and a rather unlikely one. At just 35-years old, she is the youngest person in the United States to hold such a powerful position in a major city. She’s only been in the position for about 4 months.
Why is Mrs. Mosby a shero? Most times when police kill unarmed, innocent and non-threatening Black people, cops either are not criminally charged, or they are exonerated in court. Marilyn Mosby not only charged six Baltimore police officers involved in Freddy Gray’s death, she did it in public and bold fashion, reading the entire report from her office for Baltimore citizens and the press. Unprecedented.This is a much heralded but rarely displayed quality called “transparency.” Watch the entire press conference below and notice her passion and conviction.
Her speech clearly explained all the events involved in the cops’ interaction for Freddy Gray on April 12, 2015. She identified by name the officers involved and their respective criminal charges. Moreover, she took time to acknowledge national protests against police brutality, mention her intention to make sure the law applies to everyone, and empathize with youth rebels while cautioning them to protest peacefully while she guides the case going forward.
To summarize: She made a distinction between “good” cops in Baltimore and those involved in Gray’s death. She discussed how her office conducted a thorough independent investigation into the incident, in addition to how they worked with local police. She explained that Gray was illegally arrested. She detailed how police used excessive force and how they all failed to get Gray the medical attention that might have saved his life. She mentioned that the medical examiner ruled Gray’s death a homicide likely caused by injuries Gray sustained while riding in a police van without a seat-belt. She reminded the public that she appreciates cops and has no vendetta against ALL law enforcement, by mentioning that both her parents, many aunts and uncles, and her grandfather was a cop. She thanked (peaceful) protesters. She encouraged peaceful and productive rallies by Baltimore residents to “develop structural and systemic changes for years to come.” In short, she demonstrated tremendous courage, competence, transparency, clarity, and empathy for local and national victims of police misconduct.
But her exemplary, decisive, and solution-oriented leadership didn’t end with that press conference. Mosby has also dropped charges against Baltimore residents who violated the unlawful curfew imposed by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ( it turns out only the Governor had such authority). She also created the Aim to B’More Program, which provides educational and employment assistance to first-time nonviolent drug offenders, leading their criminal records to be expunged. Unlike typical heartless prosecutors “just doing their job,” Mosby seeks to transform her job, by providing social services to those needing them in an effort to prevent young people from becoming life-long criminals/inmates.
From where I sit, THIS is the type of visionary and transformative leadership needed in America’s oft-neglected urban centers. She gives hope to the hopeless, acknowledges and attempts to remedy problems, and holds racist police accountable (I wouldn’t be surprised if Mosby runs for Mayor in Baltimore one day). Just take look at the speech she delivered when she ran for State’s Attorney:
Of course, certain whites, the Baltimore police union, and others can’t stand to see a strong and intelligent Black woman take police thugs to task. In the traditional old-boy’s network, the prosecution sides with the police and helps hide and defend their misconduct. Mosby is the new sister in town, who understands and relates to the suffering of her people, and the forces-that-be can’t stand to see any departure from their unfair protocol on OUR behalf. Notice the Fox News commentary:
Predictably, forces in Baltimore are moving against to discredit, defame and generally sabotage Marilyn Mosby and all of us by extension. Both the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police and the attorneys representing the six officers are calling for Mosby to step down and or appoint an independent prosecutor. Their goal is not simply to exonerate thug police officers, but to intimidate and crush Black leadership an organized movements for Black liberation.
This leaves Black folk with an important responsibility. We must support Marilyn J. Mosby in an organized and public manner. She put her job and career on the line for us, and we stand in solidarity behind her. Please sign this petition calling on Mrs. Mosby to stay on her job and keep fighting the good fight. We can’t have it both ways. When Black people in high positions, fail or betray us, we attack them, but when someone stands up for us, and sticks their neck out, we fail to support them. Please read, sign and share this petition!
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote The Blueprint: A BSU Handbook, teaching Black student activists how to organize and protest. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.”
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.