Around a thousand demonstrators took to the streets of Baltimore on Saturday to protest the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in police custody. The incident has intensified concerns over racialized policing in the United States and has been linked to the pattern of fatal police encounters with unarmed black civilians that has provoked a national debate and sparked a movement.
Producers of The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM went to the protests to hear from demonstrators. “Police brutality in Baltimore must stop today,” said one protester. “We need to, as a community, police the police because they cannot police themselves.”
Central to the conversation about Baltimore policing is the legacy of the city’s former mayor, then governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, who is now a potential presidential candidate.
“I think O’Malley was in many ways the architect for the type of policing that we’ve seen here in Baltimore,” said Dr. Lawrence Brown, an activist and Assistant Professor at Morgan State University. “Zero tolerance, a high rate of stop and frisk … it really sort of created an environment where you had 127 murders or police killings between 1992 and 2012. A lot of that is in the period in which he’s in office.”
Briana Briscoe, a young Sandtown-Winchester resident, lamented the loss of her friend, “I miss him so much. He was like a brother.”
—James F. Kelly