A 22-year-old Baltimore Black man has been sentenced to $1M fine and 250 hours of community works - a clear case of racial injustice.
America claims to have entered post racism era yet the evidence of the assertion can barely be seen. For many Black people, the ‘post racism era’ might have only been entered in books but not in real life. There seem to be nowhere we can turn to for rescue than to our own selves. The presence of racial injustice in America can easily be identified in every sector of the society but it is especially visible when it comes to policing and sentencing. 22-year-old Gregory Butler Jr. has currently been slapped with a huge fine of $1million. What might have warranted such a gargantuan punishment? Find out more in the various news sources we have put together for you.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) November 4, 2016
THE HUFFINGTON POST
A Baltimore man was sentenced on Thursday to pay $1 million in restitution for puncturing a fire hose at a burning drugstore during rioting last year, federal authorities said.
Gregory Butler Jr, 22, was also sentenced by a federal judge to 250 hours of community service and three years of supervised release for obstructing firefighters at a CVS Health Corp pharmacy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore said in a statement.
The drugstore was set afire in April 2015 during unrest after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from an injury suffered while in police custody. His death heightened a U.S. debate on police treatment of minorities.
Butler had admitted to twice puncturing the hose with a knife. The incident was caught on video and the burning pharmacy became a symbol of unrest in the largely African-American city.
U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz ordered Butler to pay $100 a month during his supervised release. Failure to pay could be a violation of his release, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in an email. Read more.
— Sun Breaking News (@BaltSunBrk) November 3, 2016
According to information presented in court, the hose cutting happened after several Baltimore City Fire Dept engines responded to a fire on April 27, 2015 around 6:30 p.m. at the CVS Pharmacy on Pennsylvania Avenue near W North Avenue.
“Firefighters deployed fire hoses to provide water in those efforts and to protect firefighters inside and near the building,” the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland wrote in a release Thursday. “Throughout the course of BCFD’s fire suppression and extinguishment efforts, rioting continued in the vicinity of CVS Pharmacy.”
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board, Jr. of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Baltimore Field Division; Commissioner Kevin Davis of the Baltimore Police Department; Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.
Assistant United States Attorneys Philip A. Selden and Matthew J. Maddox prosecuted the case.
The investigation into April 27, 2015 arsons is continuing. Anyone with information is urged to call the ATF hotline, 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473). ATF continues to offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any individual responsible for these incidents.
Federal prosecutors have already charged four other defendants for arson crimes committed during the April 27, 2015 riots. Read more.
A report from the Fire Department at the time said that “all units on the fire ground were placed in danger by the destruction of the supply line.”
Rick Hoffman, president of the Baltimore firefighters union, was not involved in Butler’s sentencing but said he thought it was good for Butler to get a second chance.
The riot was “an absolutely horrible time for everybody, in uniform and out,” Hoffman said. “Now moving forward, if everyone’s decided that the best way to handle this is to try to make something positive out of this kid, I’m all for it.”
Butler, who spent five weeks in federal detention before sentencing, is the first person charged in federal court related to the riot who did not receive additional prison time. Others convicted faced between four and 15 years in prison for their roles.
Before the riot, Butler was a standout basketball star at Polytechnic Institute. His coach told The Baltimore Sun in 2014 that Butler couldn’t secure an NCAA scholarship because of a city policy that had been causing students to earn fewer points toward their weighted grade-point average for honors and Advanced Placement classes than their peers in other school districts.
Butler had taken on more difficult honors classes but didn’t get the GPA boost he would have gotten in other school districts, and felt graduating from the city system put him at a disadvantage. Butler said at the time that he was working to pay off classes at community college. Read more.
It is a well-known fact that in America, Blacks get much stiffer punishments even for very little offences whereas their white counterparts are barely charged for the most horrible crimes they commit. Gregory Bitler’s sentence has been surely dictated by racial injustice. It is very important for the law enforcement to lock down and frighten Black activists or silence them in some other way. Protests do work and that is what frightens the authorities.