The city of Baltimore erupted into violence amid peaceful outcries in search of justice for the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old man suffered a spinal injury while in police custody and was declared dead on April 19. Since that point protesters have taken to the streets daily in the city on behalf of Gray and the many other black men who have been killed unnecessarily.
Baltimore was called a war zone over the weekend as the peaceful demonstration turned violent by a group of disgruntled protesters. Despite the fact that law enforcement has perpetrated the war on Black America repeatedly, the vast majority of people involved in the many protests did not engage in violence or unruly behavior. Yet, the media played the city up to be a war zone.
Several reports surfaced which support that most protesters in Baltimore were peaceful, while a handful actually engaged in violent behavior by vandalizing police vehicles, cursing and throwing rocks at officers and leaving rubble in their tracks. Peaceful demonstrations have ensued for a week without violence as marchers chanting:
All night, all day we are going to fight for Freddie Gray!
They held signs and wore T-shirts all in hopes of letting the world know black lives matter. Reportedly there was an “overwhelming peaceful majority” of protesters who not only marched, but also stood between law enforcement and the slim number of angry demonstrators. Despite the outbreak of violence caused by the angry mob, it fails in comparison to the violence against Freddie Gray by the Baltimore Police Department.
Dena Iverson, spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said investigations are ongoing to determine whether any civil rights violation occurred which may be prosecutable. This provided little comfort to protesters of that city, nor other citizens of black America, who fear the continuous war on black lives. It is difficult to forget the Justice Department’s investigation in the murder of unarmed Michael Brown which resulted in no charges against the officer.
In order to bring federal civil rights charges against law enforcement, investigators much show that an officer willfully deprived the victim of their civil rights by using more force than legally permitted. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the city’s mayor, welcomed the investigation from the Justice Department. She said:
Whenever a police force conducts an internal investigation, there are always appropriate questions of transparency and impartiality. My goal has always been to get answers to the questions so many of us are still asking with regards to Mr. Gray’s death.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts thanked the protesters who carried out a peaceful march and attempted to silence the violent outbreak. Batts, at a recent news conference, vowed transparency throughout the investigation and pledged to make those found responsible accountable for any misconduct. Currently, six officers have been suspended as the investigation continues.
Batts expects the investigation to be completed by May 1. In order to determine if criminal charges will be filed, the results will be sent to the state attorney’s office. The police commissioner has also said he is ordering a police review and rewrite on its policies involving transporting prisoners and providing them with necessary medical attention. This amendment will be effective immediately.
Gray’s death remains a mystery to residents of Baltimore and across the nation. According to his family, the 25-year-old’s neck was snapped and his voice box crushed before he slipped into a coma and died. As the investigation into his death continues, the funeral for Freddie Gray is being held today. His family and friends will be joined by relatives of other black men who were killed by law enforcement as well as several White House officials.
Freddie Gray’s body will be laid to rest, but the concern of police brutality goes on. News of his smashed upper spine has triggered outrage across the country causing protesters to take their cries to the streets in search of justice. Much violence has taken place in lieu of the heightened occurrence of death for unarmed black Americans by those given the charge to protect.
Although, the peaceful protests in Baltimore over the weekend turned violent, only a small number partook of the volatile demonstrations. The media deemed Baltimore a war zone, when this was not an accurate assessment. The city of Baltimore will continue its outcry against unwarranted killings by law enforcement, but will not advocate violence as an outlet.
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by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Top Image Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian – Creativecommons Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian – Creativecommons Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian – Creativecommons Flickr License