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Pastor Calls for Peace, Justice in Wake of Freddie Gray Case Acquittal

Protesters have expressed disappointment in police in the Freddie Gray case since his death in April 2015. (Virginia Carter)
Protesters have expressed disappointment in police in the Freddie Gray case since his death in April 2015. (Virginia Carter)
June 24, 2016

BALTIMORE – As the nation reacts to the acquittal in the Freddie Gray case, there are calls for justice and for peace.

Rev. Tom Harris at Govans Presbyterian Church in Baltimore says you can't have one without the other.

He's disappointed a Baltimore judge acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. of second-degree depraved-heart murder in the case, and says voices need to be heard so change can happen.

"We are all racist and we have to be aware when our biases are clouding our judgments,” Harris says. “It's not that anybody can just take that out of their soul, because I think it's all part of our brokenness as people, but we can try to be aware of it and be conscious of it and how it's affecting our judgments and our decisions. "

Gray died in police custody in April 2015. After being arrested, he was shackled and put into a van driven by Goodson but was not secured in a seat belt, and suffered a severe spinal injury on the way to the police station. He died a week later.

Harris says as public servants, police need to make sure they don't abuse power.

"The police are the ones with the power,” he stresses. “They are the ones that are armed, and they represent the government which has the power, and so we need to work to limit the powerful so everyone has a chance."

Harris says conflict is part of living together, and a church's role isn't to quash that, but instead to bring people together to have a dialogue. He says protesters have a right to voice their opinions.

"I think that we often look at the protesters and say, 'Don't be violent,' and we often forget that these are the people who have had violence done against them for a very long time,” he states. “Nobody's stood up and tried to stop that violence, so I think we have to be careful of being hypocritical."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD