The trials and tragedy of Duryea Green

Andre Powell of the Baltimore Peoples’ Power Assembly. Free Duryea Green!

In 2004 in the Baltimore neighborhood of O’Donnell Heights, two teenagers playing basketball were shot. To this day, it is unclear what exactly happened. 

What is clear is that this was a frame-up and the wrong man is still in prison for a crime he did not commit. 

Duryea Green was arrested and charged, convicted and imprisoned for the attempted murder of the two teenagers. Two witnesses were pressured by police to identify Duryea as the shooter.

The Green family was your typical Baltimore family. Both parents, Van and Duryea, worked full time, doing their best to raise two sons. Due to racism, a corrupt police detective and a thoroughly rotten Baltimore police department, their lives were turned upside down. 

In the weeks following the shooting, Van Green started to receive strange visits to her house from the Baltimore City Police Department. There were three visits by the investigating officer, Detective James Lloyd, who would eventually be promoted to Sergeant. During Lloyd’s first visit, he asked for an individual named “Darrell Green.” 

As this wasn’t Duryea’s name, Van told the police that she did not know anyone named Darrell Green. A week later, Detective Lloyd returned and asked for someone named “Derrick Green.” Again, Van didn’t know a Derek Green. These two requests were particularly strange because the Green family had lived in the same home for ten years. Duryea’s name was on the records and known in the community. 

The first two times the police visited the Green home, Duryea was at work. Eventually, Lloyd interviewed the couple in their living room. Duryea asserted he could not have committed the crime as he was working at the time. After a brief conversation, Lloyd left. 

For approximately a month, the Greens didn’t hear anything from the Baltimore police. One day, James Lloyd arrived again at the home; however, this time he forced his way into the house. He was accompanied by other patrol officers. All of their guns were raised. The only people home at the time were Van and her two sons. 

Lloyd and his officers physically forced Van onto her couch, guns still raised. Her two young sons were scared and confused. Lloyd berated Van and her sons with questions. The family was eventually placed in a police van, the same type used in the murder of Freddy Gray, and were taken to the Southeastern District station. They were held in a cell for over three hours, but not told why. After three hours, Van started to protest and demand to know why she and her children had been thrown in jail. Several hours after this, Lloyd appeared and presented an arrest warrant. This warrant is supposed to be for Duryea Green, yet the name on the warrant is “Derrick Green.” To this day, the name “Derrick” appears in the case file and court documents. 

The miscarriage of justice based on these facts alone is disgraceful. However, in many ways it is just the tip of the iceberg. The state violence and racism against the Green family is a stirring example of a bigger problem: an inherently racist and profit-motivated criminal justice system. Nothing represents this better than the record of the lead detective on Duryea’s case, James Lloyd. 

James Lloyd, a corrupt cop in a corrupt department

The corruption and racism manifest in the Baltimore Police Department is well documented in mainstream news. This heinous record includes not only a long history of racist murder, but also planting evidence, beating suspects, and paying witnesses to provide false testimony. 

James Lloyd is a poignant manifestation of this corruption, demonstrated by two particular incidents during his career. The most telling example is that James Lloyd is currently being held without bail on charges of extortion and kidnapping. According to court documents, Lloyd used threats of arrest and kidnapping to extort large payments from several individuals. The charging documents assert that Lloyd had a pattern of using his position in the police department to force cash payments. The prosecution provided such a wealth of evidence that the judge denied bail. It is extremely rare for police officers to be indicted, let alone held without bail. 

As if this wasn’t enough, James Lloyd is notorious in the area for being the assigned detective to the Sean Suiter case. Sean Suiter was a Baltimore police officer set to testify before a grand jury investigating a corrupt Baltimore police task force. The night before his scheduled testimony, Suiter was found shot by his own service weapon in his patrol car. The police first locked down the neighborhood where Suiter was found, Harlem Park. The narrative pushed by the BPD was that someone in the community murdered Suiter. The brutal and racist lockdown lasted six days. Not long after the lockdown ended, Lloyd concluded that Sean Suiter had committed suicide. To this day, many in Baltimore doubt the veracity of this conclusion. It is commonly assumed by many that Suiter was murdered to prevent his testimony. Given Lloyd’s checkered and violent history, it is even possible he killed Suiter. 

The criminal injustice system

Sixteen years later, Duryea Green remains in prison as the COVID pandemic rages; furthermore, Green is currently battling cancer and is thus vulnerable to the virus. The Baltimore Peoples’ Power Assembly along with this publication demand that he be released immediately. Frankly, if this article were to detail every injustice committed against Duryea by the police, the courts and his own attorneys during this process, it could easily fill a book. 

In the United States, we are always told that the police are here to protect and serve us. We are told that we have the greatest court system in the world. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. How is that working for Duryea Green and his family fighting tooth and nail to get him home? This case demonstrates what is truly at the heart of the police, courts and jails in this country. It certainly isn’t justice. Those three institutions are committed to the will of the wealthy and the powerful. Consequently, they adhere to two tenets and two tenets alone: racism and profit. 

Duryea Green deserves better. Oppressed communities deserve better. Community control of the police now! Free Mumia! Free Duryea Green! Free them all!