On Monday night, William Murphy, Jr., held a press conference in a West Baltimore church. Murphy is a long-time Baltimore lawyer—he cameoed as himself on The Wire—and he is now the attorney to the family of Freddie Gray. Gray sustained fatal injuries this month under mysterious circumstances in the back of a Baltimore City police van.
You can watch nearly his full speech on MSNBC’s website: It’s a remarkable piece of seemingly off-the-cuff rhetoric, sweeping through centuries of Black American experience and arriving at the present day.
Once in the present, he turns to police treatment of black people:
[The police] used to be able to get away with lying about it. And there were lots of people in the establishment anxious to believe them over anybody black.
Thank God for cellphone video cameras. Thank God for cellphone video cameras, because now the truth is finally coming out. And it’s ugly.
At his first “thank God,” amens go up from the crowd.
It’s a commonplace to note now that the most significant images in the criminal-justice reform movement have not been shot by professional photographers, nor by police body cameras, but by ordinary people wielding only their phones. Feidin Santana’s video of Walter Scott. Ramsey Orta’s video of Eric Garner. Even the still image, shot through curtains, of Michael Brown’s body on Canfield Drive.