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NAACP President says 'change has begun' after mistrial verdict

Baltimore NAACP President Tessa Hill-Aston issues statement after William Porter mistrial verdict (WBFF)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Baltimore NAACP President Tessa Hill-Aston in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon said while she was disappointed by the mistrial verdict of officer William Porter she implored protesters to control their anger and frustration ahead of the State's Attorney's decision on what comes next for the trials over the death of Freddie Gray.

"Whether you like the decision or not, the Baltimore City NAACP calls for frustration and anger to be controlled and the rights of all people respected, on all sides," she said. "We must be guided by our own sense of what must happen next for Baltimore, guided by the tangible sense of frustration and anger held by so many city residents and guided by the fact that there remains five officers to stand trial for the death of Freddie Gray."

She added "change has begun."

The rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement was to inspire a change in laws that unfairly targeted black Americans.

"Certainly no suspect will be placed in police wagons without someone being responsible for making sure they are buckled. The long practice of "rough rides" has effectively come to an end," Hill-Aston said.

Gray died after a ride in a Baltimore Police prisoner transport van. Some at the time voiced the theory that Gray was taken for a "rough ride" or as some call it "a popcorn ride," which caused a lethal injury to his spine.

Hill-Aston also spoke to demonstrators who began screaming at police outside of the court where a hung jury couldn't rule on the charges against Porter. She urged them to move away from sheriff's deputies.

"I'll do everything in my power to help them stay calm," Hill-Aston said.


Her statement in full:


Today the jury in the Officer William Porter trial in the death of Freddie Gray has made their determination. Hopelessly deadlocked, a mistrial has been declared and we wait on a decision by the prosecutor on what will happen now.
Whether you like the decision or not, the Baltimore City NAACP calls for frustration and anger to be controlled and the rights of all people respected, on all sides. "We must be guided by our own sense of what must happen next for Baltimore, guided by the tangible sense of frustration and anger held by so many city residents and guided by the fact that there remains five officers to stand trial for the death of Freddie Gray."
Even with this verdict, what we do know is that the change has begun. Certainly no suspect will be placed in police wagons without someone being responsible for making sure they are buckled. The long practice of "rough rides" has effectively come to an end.
And the disconnected police culture and those who have benefited from it, the same culture that allowed for the tragic death of Freddie Gray to occur, has been put on notice that you will be charged for your actions and you will be held accountable.
The work does not end with this verdict or any verdict to come in the future. It is important that we spend our days and use our energy to create a city where the bridge that exists between the citizens and those who have sworn to protect and serve them is stronger. We must continue to do our part to help people make better choices and have increased options that allow them to live as contributing members of our society and we must always believe that justice will always triumph over wrong doing, even when that is not always as clear as we'd like.

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