Baltimore Riots: The Death of Freddie Gray, Police Brutality and Economic Depression

By Sheryl Estrada
The funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray was on Monday in Baltimore, the city where he lived and died on April 19 after sustaining spinal injuries during 45 minutes in a Baltimore police van seven days prior, and no video has been released.
According to Gray’s family attorney, William Murphy, Jr.,80 percent of his spinal cord was severed.
Murphy hassaid that more video of Gray’s interactions with police may exist.

The cell phone video that brought national attention to his encounter with officers shows him being dragged into a police van while screaming in pain and pleading for medical help after being arrested.


Following theride to the police station, in whichofficers did not secure him for travel with a seatbelt, he was transported to the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. On April 16, he fell into a comma, and lay there until he took his last breath.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Gray should have received medical treatment when he was arrested, and that his officers made mistakes.

The Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a press conference Friday the actions by police officers were unacceptable.

“A mother has to bury her child and she doesn’t even know how or why this tragedy occurred only that this tragedy occurred while her child was in our custody, in police custody and this is not acceptable,” she said.

The police said that morning Gray fled after making eye contact with the officers on the scene. He was carrying an “unlawful” small, pocketknife, and he was taken into custody. The six officers have been suspended with pay.

There was another person inside the police van, who is a witness. The police said as the incident is under criminal investigation, the man’s name won’t be released.

In CEO of DiversityInc Luke Visconti’s column, “Why Are Police Losing Credibility, and What Does Diversity Have to Do With It” he comments on why police use lethal force toward Black men who flee (including Walter Scott, who was fatally shot by a police officer in North Charleston, S.C. in April), citing racial bias in policing:

I’d assume that most police officers are not racist. They are immersed, however, in a racist system. This is why you are seeing less and less respect for the law. It’s the culmination of this preposterous “War on Drugs,” started by President Richard Nixon (a racist) 40 years ago. It has resulted in the destruction of families and of the lives of millions of Black men in particular.

Among the reported thousands of people at Gray’s funeral was civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson. During the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity Announcement on April 24, he addressed the current unrest due to recent police-related deaths of Black males.

“My hardest pain tonight is this epidemic of killing young, Black males,” he said.

He also addressed how Baltimore has drastic ongoing economic and education hardship for Blacks living in the city.

“In a community [Baltimore] with about 25 percent unemployment, public housing over private housing, there is no investment there to have the tax payers educate their children, creating second class schools,” he said. “They can’t discuss diversity, they’re discussing discovery.”

A culmination of economic depression, Gray’s death, and the fact that Baltimore has a documented history of police brutality reached its peak. “Black Lives Matter” protests have taken place in the city. And on Monday, rioting and violence began in West Baltimore, spreading to East Baltimore and areas close to downtown.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in Baltimore and called out the National Guard; up to 5,000 officers will be available. A weeklong daily curfew has been instated, beginning Tuesday, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. New Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she would send Justice Department officials this week.

The Gray family does not condone the violence taking place.

“I think the violence is wrong,” said Gray’s twin sister, Fredericka Gray. “I don’t like it at all.”

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