It’s been 6 months since Freddie Gray died from spinal injuries while in Baltimore police custody, just one of a spate of police-involved killings of unarmed black men around the country in recent years that have shocked the nation. Freddie Gray’s death triggered peaceful protests and a wave of rioting in the city. The city is still on edge. The pending trials of the six Baltimore City police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case have kept the spotlight on a grievance that simmers in nearly every major US city, but runs especially hot in Baltimore: a police force that many believe is too quick to use force on its black citizens, too out of touch with the community, and too often allowed to act with impunity.
Last Friday, a day after protests erupted at City Hall over police commissioner Kevin Davis’ approval by a city council committee, a broad coalition of city youth, community and civil rights leaders stepped forward with a six-point plan to reform the Baltimore Police Department. Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is lead author of the report called Toward Trust: Grassroots Recommendations for Police Reform in Baltimore. He joined Tom in the studio Friday, along with Kwame Rose, a Baltimore social activist, hip hop artist, blogger and public speaker who has been involved in the Freddie Gray and recent City Hall protests.
At noon today, Ben Jealous will moderate a conversation at the Washington DC headquarters of the Center for American Progress with advocates, organizers, and researchers to discuss how policymakers can begin to build trust between the police in Baltimore and other communities.