On Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Justice brought criminal charges of perjury and false mortgage applications against Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, a Black woman who has served in the position since 2015.
The recent criminal indictment alleges that Mosby used COVID-related loan money to purchase vacation homes. Further, she is accused of falsely testifying under oath that she experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic.
Mosby’s tenure has been a controversial one. In 2015, she charged six Baltimore police officers with the murder of an unarmed Black man, Freddie Gray. Baltimore cops killed Gray after he ran from officers who were screaming at him and waving their firearms aggressively.
Following Gray’s murder, the people of Baltimore rebelled against racist police brutality and terror.
When Mosby announced that she would prosecute the officers involved in Gray’s murder, this drew the ire of many, including the racist Fraternal Order of Police and right-wing politicians. Ultimately, Freddie Gray’s murderers were not convicted. Many returned to their jobs on the Baltimore police force. However, the “law and order” community never forgot Mosby’s attempt to convict the killers.
Fast forward six years. Mosby announced that her office would no longer prosecute drug users and sex workers in the city of Baltimore in April 2021. This announcement was part of a larger effort to scale back the racist war on drugs that had wreaked havoc in Baltimore’s Black community for decades. This policy change was met with extreme vitriol from pro-police forces.
The Baltimore Republican Party and its allies called for an indictment of Mosby on anything that could stick. In 2020, the DOJ and Internal Revenue Service investigated Mosby and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, for alleged tax law violations.
Eventually the claims against the Mosbys were found to be without merit and the investigation ended. However, federal investigations resumed after Mosby announced her initiative to decriminalize drug use and sex work. This investigation led to the January indictment.
To be clear, it’s important to understand that Marilyn Mosby is an imperfect figure. She is not a socialist nor even a progressive. For her entire career, Mosby has been a mainstream Democratic Party politician.
In many ways, Mosby echoes the “law and order” politics of people like former President Bill Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. This is best demonstrated by the continued prosecution of police shooting victim Keith Davis Jr. Mosby’s office has prosecuted Davis five times, after numerous mistrials and hung juries. The entire case is based on flimsy evidence; consequently, the Baltimore community has continually protested the prosecution.
With that said, Mosby should still be defended against reactionary and racist attacks. The recent DOJ prosecution is exactly that. The charges against her aren’t based on justice or fairness. They are based on racist political retribution. Even with Mosby’s imperfections, progressives and socialists have a duty to stand in solidarity with Black elected officials against racist attacks.
It is telling that Joe Biden’s DOJ has brought these charges against the State’s Attorney of a majority Black, working-class city like Baltimore. For better or worse, Mosby is paying the price for executing what she believed were Democratic Party values. She tried to prosecute killer cops and stop prosecuting innocent people. For that, she is under vicious attack.
It is more important now than ever that the people stand in solidarity with her and other politicians who find themselves under attack for policies that challenge the police and mass incarceration.
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