This Is What Democracy Looks Like

May 5, 2015 1 Comment

We’ve heard this call and response chant echo down boulevards from St Louis to Baltimore as the #BlackLivesMatter movement takes to the streets. This is what democracy looks like, when the people most affected by a situation organize for change. They call out to us from the streets to remind us that democracy is not about the mechanics for voting for representation.

We don’t all have to march in the streets to use our power and privilege to push for a more just society. I received a copy of a wonderful letter last night. A friend who lives in Baltimore was deeply disturbed by a video that appears to show a Baltimore city police officer violently assaulting a man from behind, even though his hands are raised in surrender.

Instead of just shaking his head or shaking his fist, my friend used his privilege as a citizen and a registered voter in the city of Baltimore to write this letter to Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby:

Dear Baltimore City State’s Attorney Mosby:

I wrote yesterday to thank you for indicting the officers involved in the killing of Freddie Gray – that was a courageous and necessary action.

I write today to ask if your office has reviewed a 6-second video on YouTube that appears to show a Baltimore City police officer using excessive force on a man by pushing him violently to the ground from behind.

The video can be seen here:

The video was uploaded on 4/28/15 by a YouTube channel called BaltimoreRiots. The caption says that the video was submitted by “a reader in Baltimore.”

Has your office reviewed this video?

If you believe the video does involve Baltimore City police officers, I urge you to bring appropriate criminal charges (assault, misconduct in office, etc.) against the officer who pushes the man to the ground. The conduct of that officer clearly represents an excessive use of force given that the man who was pushed had his hands up and was backpedalling slowly away from one or two other officers who were advancing on him from the opposite direction.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your work to hold Baltimore City police accountable. I look forward to your response.

David Bisson
Registered Voter and Baltimore City Resident

How are you using your individual privilege and power to hold your public institutions responsible for acting with justice? Because being a voice for accountability – this is what democracy looks like, too.


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