Baltimore, MD–Two weeks after Freddie Gray‘s death at the hands of police officers, friends, relatives, and supporters of the 25-year-old Baltimore man took to the streets on Saturday to demand justice on his behalf.
Gray is considered by many to be the latest victim of what several activists are referring to as a nationwide pandemic of police killings of Black men. He died on April 19th while being treated in a hospital for spinal injuries sustained while he was handcuffed in police custody on April 12th.
Since that time, his loved ones and community residents have expressed outrage. Those close to him allege that he died as a result of being beaten unnecessarily by officers from the city’s Western precinct while authorities are denying the charge.
The Baltimore police department, like many large cities across the United States, has been accused of having a long track record of racial profiling and the violent targeting of African American men in particular.
Community activist Kenji Scott told us that Gray’s death is nothing new in Baltimore and that police have been increasingly brutalizing Black men over the past four years. “Since 2012 we have lost four Black men to police brutality,” Scott said. “The difference is all of them were brutally [beaten] to death.”
Gray’s death, as in the cases of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Walter Scott, has drawn nationwide attention.
During Saturday’s long demonstration, over two thousand people swarmed the streets of downtown to let their voices be heard. This was perhaps the largest demonstration the area has seen in years. Seeing demonstrators swarming the streets could easily remind any observer of an invading conquering army. Only in this instance, however, the footsoldiers’ most potent weapons were signs, bullhorns, and voices all demanding “Justice for Freddie Gray” and other victims of alleged police brutality.
While walking on the march route, hostility toward police officers was heavily sensed by onlookers and overtly expressed by residents. During the protest, you could hear such familiar phrases as “F— the police!” and “Jail killer cops!”
Video of Freddie Gray’s arrest. TRIGGER WARNING: POLICE BRUTALITY