Yesterday, Marilyn Mosby, the prosecutor who brought charges against six Baltimore police officers accused of mistreating Freddie Gray, sat on stage at a Baltimore concert in which Prince performed a protest song about Gray and the recent unrest in the city. As I understand it, the concert was in honor of Gray, and Prince called Mosby and her husband to the stage.
Based on the reports I’ve seen, I would say the event had a decidedly anti-police tenor. Prince performed the song “Baltimore,” which contains references to both Freddie Gray and Michael Brown, and asserts: “If there ain’t no justice than there ain’t no peace.” Prince also reportedly told the crowd that “the system is broken.”
Mosby did not address the crowd. However, her appearance on stage strikes me as a statement in itself — an endorsement of the “no justice, no peace” lynch mob mentality. Call it demagoguery by proxy.
Mosby, of course, has already sounded the “no justice, no peace” theme. She did so when she announced the charges against the six police officers.
Mosby’s latest public display has one of her ardent defenders scratching her head. Laura Coates, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, has rejected past criticism of Mosby. However, according to CNN she now has admonished Mosby on twitter and advised her “think b4 u act.”
Former prosecutor Bill Otis is no defender of Mosby. However, he has argued that a court should not have her replaced as prosecutor of the six officers. Now, he says that Mosby’s “continuing recklessness” weakens his belief in this position.
It was obviously inappropriate for Mosby to have sat on stage as an honored guest during, or even to have attended, a concert in which the main entertainer espoused views that bear on a case she will prosecute. The thrust of Prince’s song “Baltimore” and of his comment about “the system” is that Freddie Gray was a victim of the police and that the police force is “broken.”
Thus, the event might well tend to prejudice and/or inflame potential jurors. Mosby should not have participated.
For me, the interesting question is whether Mosby’s participation was a stumble or a case of deliberate rabble-rousing. My guess is neither. I think she simply loves the limelight — both in itself and as a means of political advancement. This, it seems to me, is the source of her demagoguery.