Freddie Gray | WYPR

Freddie Gray

WYPR, WEAA and NPR collection of stories around the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

Understanding Poverty

May 7, 2015
Matt Purdy / WYPR

Michael Reisch, professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and a leading scholar on American poverty, talks about the socioeconomic dynamics of Baltimore brought to light by the unrest related to the death of Freddie Gray.

Sandtown-Winchester: Past and Present, Part II

May 6, 2015

We revisit West Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester -- "Freddie's neighborhood" -- with people who live there and who have been involved in the two-decades-long effort to raise the quality of life of its residents. Our guests: Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, now president of the University of Baltimore; Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore City branch of the NAAACP Carol Reckling, executive director of Child First Authority and a senior leader for BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development); Rev.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has ended a state of emergency in Baltimore imposed after the riots and looting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray, the black man who, after his arrest, suffered a spine injury and died a week later.

Sandtown-Winchester: Past and Present, Part I

May 6, 2015

We revisit West Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester -- "Freddie's neighborhood" -- with people who live there and who have been involved in the two-decades-long effort to raise the quality of life of its residents. Our guests: Congressman Elijah Cummings; Carol Reckling, executive director of Child First Authority and a senior leader for BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development); Bart Harvey, former CEO of the Enterprise Foundation; Rev.  Louis Wilson of New Song Community Church.

For the last seven decades, it’s been baseball, more than our other major sports, that has led the way in terms of its connection to the broader American social fabric. And nowhere was that association on greater display than last week during the unrest that rocked Baltimore to its core.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has asked the Justice Department to open up a civil rights investigation into the city's police department.

"Such an investigation is essential if we are to build on the foundation of reform," she said during a news conference.

Over the past couple of weeks, Baltimore has seen near-daily protests over the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spine injury in police custody. Those protests boiled over into a night of riots.

Baltimore Heritage//Flickr Creative Commons

Five decades ago, before the riots of 1968, Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood was a vibrant community of about 40,000 laborers, professionals and artists. These days less than half that many people live there, and the numbers paint a picture of a community in poor health, with high unemployment, deep poverty, and children not attending school regularly.

Matt Purdy

On April 12th, Baltimore police officers made eye contact with Freddie Gray at North Avenue and Mount Street. Gray ran, the police chased, and you know the rest of the story: the 25-year-old Gray suffered a spinal injury while in police custody and died a week later. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, in announcing charges against the officers on Friday, said the officers did not have probable cause to arrest Gray.

Even before the Freddie Gray case, the state’s attorney’s office wanted Baltimore police to bring more expertise in deciding when and how to stop someone on the street (or in a car), and what makes a valid arrest. The city has approve $50,000 to put 300 police officers through 12 hours of training. The lawyer who created the training, Byron Warnken, joins us by phone to talk about it. He’s a University of Baltimore Law Professor and the senior member of Warnken, Attorneys At Law, which he founded with his wife.

The images from Baltimore of demonstrations, police in riot gear, looting and outbreaks of violence are familiar to some other cities after encounters with police ended in death for unarmed individuals — primarily black men.

Officials say what comes from those tragic encounters can be important lessons about policing and moving forward.

A week after Baltimore’s mostly peaceful protests turned into riots, tensions flared again after a shot rang out at the intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenues. Officers pursued a man carrying a handgun, which the police department says discharged when the revolver was dropped.

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