Democracy Now! - December 17, 2015

In Baltimore, a mistrial has been declared in the case of a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April from a spinal injury sustained while being transported in the back of a police van. Gray’s family and attorney say his voice box was crushed and his spine was "80 percent severed at his neck." Six officers were charged in Freddie Gray’s death. Officer William Porter was the first one to go to trial, charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. On Wednesday, a judge declared a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict on any of the charges after three days of deliberation.

From Baltimore to Ferguson to New York, Wednesday was a major day for criminal justice news. In Baltimore, a mistrial has been declared in the case of one of the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April from a spinal injury sustained while being transported in the back of a police van. Meanwhile in Ferguson, Missouri, officials say they have reached the outlines of a deal with the Justice Department that would force changes to the city’s police department and head off a civil rights lawsuit alleging years of unconstitutional policing. We speak to Benjamin Jealous, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He’s the formerNAACP president and CEO.

The mayor of Flint, Michigan, has declared a state of emergency to address lead poisoning in the city’s water supply. Last year, the city’s unelected emergency manager switched the city’s water source from the Detroit system to the long-polluted Flint River in an attempt to save money. A study released in September found the proportion of children under five in Flint with elevated lead levels in their blood nearly doubled following the switch. Flint residents filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and state of endangering their health by exposing them to dangerous lead levels in their tap water. Michigan has the most sweeping emergency management laws in the country, which allow the governor to appoint a single person to run financially troubled cities. We speak to investigative reporter Curt Guyette of the ACLU of Michigan and Flint resident Melissa Mays. She and her three children have been diagnosed with lead and copper poisoning. She is the founder of Water You Fighting For?, a Flint, Michigan-based research and advocacy organization founded around the city’s water crisis.

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