WATCH: Alicia Garza, Ben Jealous Talk Freddie Gray and Police Militarization

By Sameer Rao Jul 27, 2016

The lack of charges against the officers implicated in Freddie Gray‘s death weighed heavily on the minds of Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and others participating in a Rock the Vote panel today (July 27) in Philadelphia.

"Police are allowed to be judge, jury and executioner," Garza said during panel, which was focused on the militarization of police. "Marilyn Mosby came out today and said that’s what happened with the aquittal of all officers in the murder of Freddie Gray. We have really bad ass policy and organizing that’s being moved, which tells me that there’s something so deeply corrupt about the system that we’re trying to temper with, that we might want to start over again."

Journalist Erica Williams (Time, Upworthy) moderated the panel, which also featured journalist Chris Hedges (Truth Dig), Justice League NYC co-founder Carmen Perez, former NAACP president Ben Jealous and actor Kendrick Sampson ("How to Get Away with Murder"). Panelists also addressed the profit-driven underpinnings of agresssive policing, with Hedges criticizing the "forces of capitalism and neoliberalism’s" role in fostering the demonized underground economy.

Perez also shared personal experiences with police: "I think about the way in which they dealt with my family, when we were having weddings and maybe there was a fight or a gun brandished," said Perez. "There would be tanks, [police] would come in and hold our family at gunpoint."

The panel, like a Melissa Harris-Perry-moderated one we covered yesterday, was part of Rock the Vote’s Truth to Power event series and pop-up art exhibit. Presented parallel to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia this week, the series concludes today.

Check out our livestream of Garza and Perez’s opening remarks below.