With all of the controversy surrounding the issues that have taken place between Caucasian cops and African-American citizens, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has had a lot on their plate, lately. With several killings of African-American citizens allegedly taking place at the hands of white, supposedly racist cops, the Baltimore mayor is not taking any chances, as she has now asked the DOJ to look into the cops in Baltimore, just as Ferguson did after their cops faced protests. With the mass, violent protests in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown and the mass, violent protests in Baltimore recently, it is clear that Baltimore now faces the need for a system much like the new one in Ferguson. As the Ferguson police department is paying a large amount of money to lawyers to help them follow the new guidelines set out by the DOJ, so too may Baltimore soon. Just as the cops in Ferguson were found to show racist behaviors when dealing with the law, Baltimore seems to perhaps have the same.
Mayor Seeks Help From DOJ
The DOJ is now planning on opening up a new investigation into the behavior and attitudes of the men who serve on the Baltimore police force. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake let the public know on Wednesday that she had asked the DOJ to look into all of the cops on the force, much like Ferguson did with their force. The reason for this is because of the large distrust of citizens toward the Baltimore police department. It started with the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died from a severe spinal injury after a run in with the Baltimore police, who arrested him. Then, Tuesday’s events showed a clear need for implemented measures, as residents went crazy after police chased an African-American man down the street, before hearing a gun shot.
Residents Grow Concerned on Tuesday
The story started out that residents/witnesses in the area heard a gun shot and were claiming that the Baltimore police had shot an African-American man in the back. Fox News initially reported on scene as witnesses stood by, crying, stating that the police had just walked up and shot an African-American, young adult who was running away from them. Crowds began to gather and police formed in their well-known riot formations, for fear of what would happen after a week of violent protests consumed the city. Police later stated that no one was shot. They claimed that the African-American man was holding a gun and that is why police began chasing him. They claimed that when the young man was running he dropped the gun and it accidentally went off. Police further stated that the only reason they took the man to the hospital was for cautionary measures.
Even after these statements were made, residents in Baltimore were not convinced that the police had done nothing wrong. Many made statements that they believed the police were lying, claiming that police would hide the shooting, after everything they did in the case of Freddie Gray. Though six officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray, at the beginning of the week, the DOJ’s job in the city of Baltimore is not quite done yet.
Baltimore Mayor Takes Steps Toward Mending
The Baltimore mayor is taking several steps now, toward mending the city whose fear of cops is deepening. Rawlings-Blake has announced on Wednesday that she plans on implementing several measures, including arming each officer with body cameras. This method has been extremely popular in the last couple of years. It is surprising to many that not all cops already have this measure, as it is used as evidence now, but the mayor states that all cops in Baltimore will have this by the year 2016. The mayor also welcomes those who come in to help calm the city, such as Loretta Lynch’s visit to the city, or Prince’s upcoming peace rally on Mother’s Day.
One of the biggest steps that the mayor is taking, is to host another investigation, just like the one Ferguson did, as she has asked the DOJ to look into the cops to determine if they host racist attitudes or behaviors. The DOJ found that Ferguson cops did have such behaviors and they required the police in Ferguson to follow guidelines, for which there could be a penalty, if the following is not successful. If the DOJ investigates into the police department in Baltimore and finds that the police are also racist, when doing their job, the same type of system will have to be put in place, forcing the officers to reform.
Getting Ahead of The Game
Other cities have also gotten ahead of the game, requesting these “pattern and practice” investigations, before anything happens with their police force that cause the citizens to protest. The DOJ looks into the police records for previous years, to determine if their is a pattern that in any way violates civil rights. As violating civil rights is exactly what many police officers have been doing, according to residents in many different cities, many feel this is a necessary step for several if not all police departments across the United States.
By Crystal Boulware
Photo by Coast Guard News – Creativecommons Flickr License