Freddie Gray | WYPR

Freddie Gray

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

Batts Breaks His Silence

Sep 4, 2015
Washington Times

We heard this week from former Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts for the first time since Mayor Rawlings-Blake fired him in July. Batts and two others spoke to nearly 600 students at a panel discussion Wednesday evening about justice in America at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg.

We thought you’d be interested in hearing some of the points Anthony Batts made at the college, and to get the view of a someone with a community perspective on Batts' three years heading Baltimore’s police force. City Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents the second district and is vice chair of the council’s public-safety committee, joins Sheilah by phone.

Hearings in the trial of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray begin Wednesday. Mayor Rawlings-Blake said a few days ago that city officials know that an unpopular ruling by the judge could be a flashpoint for protests, and the city is preparing for that possibility. The pre-trial motions will be argued before Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams in two sessions – on Wednesday, and a week from Thursday, Sept. 10. Among the defense motions is one to move the trial out of Baltimore, and some to remove Baltimore State’s Attorney from prosecuting the case. Judge Williams already has ruled on some motions: last week, he rejected a subpoena by the defense lawyers for the prosecutors to take the witness stand at Wednesday’s hearing. Here to catch us up on what’s at stake on Wednesday is David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and Doug Colbert, law professor from University of Maryland.

What Did Millions Of Investment Do For West Baltimore's Sandtown

Aug 17, 2015
areseedy //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.

Yet, even with these struggles, the fabric of community relationships holds strong. The combination highlights the depth and stubbornness of the social problems in Sandtown.  The week after the riot and protests in April, we were asking the same questions as many residents and outsiders: what can bring stability to this part of West Baltimore? More jobs? Improved housing? Better coordinating leadership among these different groups ?

To talk about the investment in Sandtown, past and present, Elder Clyde Harris of Newborn Community Faith Church joined me in the studio.  He is a native of Sandtown, pastor, a community activist and an urban farmer.  With us on the line from the Washington Post  was  Michael Fletcher has lived in Baltimore for 30 years, and is national economics correspondent for the Post.

Mayor Honors Students For Believing In Baltimore In Song

Jul 31, 2015

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake honored Wednesday students who wrote a song promoting the positive things about a city that has been reeling from the fall out of the death of Freddie Gray from an injury while in police custody in April.

The result was “Believe in Baltimore” composed by students in the Living Classrooms’ Believe in Music program.

7,000 Emails

Jul 29, 2015

Baltimore Sun reporters plummed through a massive amount of emails and other documents among city officials to give a picture of response to the April protests and riot following the death of Freddie Gray. Two of the reporters, Luke Broadwater and Ian Duncan, join Dan Rodricks at noon to discuss their findings.

The All-Nite Images // Flickr Creative Commons

Churches in the black community historically have been a vital institution -- a central force of social change. From Martin Luther King Jr. , to the Reverends Fred Shuttlesworth, Richard Boone and Pauli Murray – myriad church leaders helped birth the modern civil rights movements.

Fast forward to 2015 in Baltimore: On the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral and the night of the unrest, scores of black clergy walked down North Avenue to quell the unrest.  And it raises the question: as the Black Lives Matter movement has grown --a decentralized group of community leaders, activists, authors, journalists and students using digital tools like Twitter--how has the black faith community in Baltimore engaged with this growing group?

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Lawmakers in Maryland charged with exploring potential policing reform measures heard from the public in Annapolis on Thursday. More than a dozen activists from a broad coalition of labor, civil rights and faith groups turned out to call for major changes to make law enforcement more accountable, transparent and community-oriented.

Young People Work To Bring Murals To Sandtown

Jul 20, 2015
Megan Lewis

Eighty young people have gotten summer jobs as "artist apprentices" in Sandtown in West Baltimore. It’s called Art @ Work: Sandtown. It’s an offshoot of Jubilee Arts’ year-round art programs for teens. This particular effort connects young people, aged 14 to 21, with master teaching artists to create seven murals and a mosaic in their community.

With Sheilah Kast to talk about the five-week program and its progress is one of the program’s teaching artists, Megan Lewis. Also with us are two of the artist apprentices: 18-year-old Eric Hendricks III lives in the Monroe neighborhood. He attended Frederick Douglas school. And 14-year-old Talia England. She lives in Sandtown, and graduated from Collington Square Middle school.

Baltimore in Recovery

Jul 15, 2015

We sit down with local businessman and Democratic strategist Michael Cryor, who was appointed to lead Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s “One Baltimore” initiative. We'll talk about Baltimore's recovery -- how people are feeling about the city's comeback from the spring -- if there is such a thing.

The unrest after the death of Freddie Gray continues to roil Baltimore. The city’s police union issued a report sharply critical of Commissioner Anthony Batts Wednesday morning. That afternoon, the mayor fired Batts. Now, something different; a free photo exhibit of the unrest has opened at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum downtown. The show's riveting images helped shape our understanding of what was happening in the streets at the time.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts on Wednesday. Commissioner Batts had been under-fire since the April riots and the surge in violent crime that followed. The Mayor named Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis, a veteran of the Prince George's County police department, who most recently served briefly as Police Chief in Anne Arundel County. He joined the Baltimore Police Department in January as a Deputy Commissioner.

Rebuilding community relations will be one of Interim Commissioner Davis’s most important tasks. With Sheilah in the studio to talk about how that can be done is Pastor Heber Brown III of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church. He led protests of police actions in the death of Freddie Gray.

Photo Courtesy of Beau Considine // Flickr Creative Commons

The intense debate around South Carolina’s vote to lower a Confederate banner leads us to think about Maryland’s relationship to symbols of the Civil War.

Bob Cherry, past-president of Baltimore's Fraternal Order of Police, joins Midday to discuss the union's "After Action Review," a report that criticizes former commissioner Anthony Batts for the police department's "passive" response to April's unrest. Plus, Munir Bahar, leader of the anti-violence 300 Men March, talks about the group's third annual march against violence, planned for this Friday.

Change in Command

Jul 9, 2015

Follow-up to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's dismissal of Police Commissioner Anthony Batts with excerpts from Tuesday's interview with the man who will replace Batts, Kevin Davis.

Our guests: State Senator Catherine Pugh; City Councilman Brandon Scott; P. Kenneth Burns of the WYPR reporting staff; and Rev. Donte Hickman.

Radio Talks Race: A Multi-City Roundtable

Jul 9, 2015

WYPR News Director Joel McCord teamed up with WNYC and a public radio station in St. Louis for a multi-city, many-voiced special program on race, community, and policing. What has been revealed in our divided cities over the past year? How can we learn from each other? And how can we make a plan to move forward?

Mayor Fires Batts, Appoints Interim Top Cop

Jul 9, 2015

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was fired Wednesday afternoon by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The move came hours after a scathing report by the city’s police union criticized Batts’ handling of riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in April, though Rawlings-Blake insisted the firing had nothing to do with the unrest.

Sen. Ben Cardin was in Baltimore yesterday talking up federal legislation he introduced in the wake of the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. Cardin’s so-called BALTIMORE Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, is a push to improve police-community relations.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby wants a judge to order a separate trial for two of the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

How Faith Is Shaping Sandtown-Winchester

Jun 29, 2015
Matt Purdy

At one time, there were more than 50 churches in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in Baltimore. There are now more than 30, which still represents a high concentration of churches in the 72 square block area that Sandtown encompasses. What can and should these churches be doing in this neighborhood, which has long struggled with high unemployment, poverty, addiction, and crime? We explore that question with two pastors who are doing a lot. Pastor Amelia Harris is the co-pastor of the Newborn Community of Faith Church. She has lived and worked in Sandtown with her husband, Elder C. W. Harris, for more than 30 years. Dr. Louis Wilson is here in the studio as well. He came to Sandtown from Chicago in January, accepting the call to lead the New Song Community Church.

A prominent minister orchestrated a rush-hour traffic jam last month to protest plans for a $30 million youth jail in Baltimore. Today we hear from two of Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet secretaries about justice and corrections for the state’s juvenile offenders. But first, the Freddie Gray autopsy. According to the Baltimore Sun, the state medical examiner concluded that Gray’s death was the result of a “high energy” impact injury sustained inside the police van. One of the nation’s leading experts in forensic pathology, Dr.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

The death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray was the result of a "high-energy injury" to his spine and was ruled a homicide due to "acts of omission" by police, according to The Baltimore Sun. The newspaper cites a copy of the unreleased autopsy report from the state medical examiner's office.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency says federal officials have denied the state's request for a disaster declaration stemming from civil unrest in Baltimore after the police-involved death of Freddie Gray.

Spokesman Chas Eby told The Associated Press in an email Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent Maryland an initial denial of a request the state submitted last month. Such denials can be appealed.

A disaster declaration would allow public agencies or individuals, or both, to seek reimbursement for disaster-related costs.

Baltimore Photographer Devin Allen

Jun 24, 2015
Courtesy of Time Magazine

Two months ago, you would probably have characterized twenty-six year old Catonsville resident Devin Allen as an aspiring photographer. While holding down a gig working with autistic people from midnight to 8 a.m., he was squeezing in as much street and fashion photography as he could. He’d only started shooting two years ago.

Allen grew up in West Baltimore, and when the protests started after Freddie Gray’s death, he felt compelled to pick up his camera and hit the streets. He put his photographs on Instagram. Then TIME Magazine put one of those photos on their cover. Overnight, Devin Allen’s life changed. He’s here with Sheilah in the studio to talk about it.

FBI Director James Comey says officers must work to bridge a gap with the communities they protect.

The Maryland Historical Society has unveiled a new website that features photographs, videos and oral histories from the recent civil unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.

The website,, is a collaborative effort between the historical society and faculty from the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The head of a Korean business association has accused Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of prejudice as she butts heads with Governor Larry Hogan over whether recovery loans should go to certain liquor stores damaged during riots after Freddie Gray’s death in April.

Programming Note: Today, we start a police reform series called, "On The Watch: Fixing The Fractured Relationship Between Baltimore's Police And Its Communities".  The series will run for the next twelve months.  Please email the reporter at with any comments or suggestions.

Crime in Baltimore is up, but police presence is down, residents say.  Arrests have plummeted, open air drug markets operate freely and since May 1, six homicide victims were under 18.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski was in Sandtown Monday to talk with clergy about criminal justice reforms at the federal level, and discussed measures being considered in the Senate aimed at strengthening police-community relations.

Mikulski is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee.  That committee gave approval last week to a spending bill that includes initiatives Mikulski thinks can improve policing. She said the protests following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custodies put light to a problem that exists in communities across the nation.

Midday Friday

Jun 12, 2015

Midday producer Melody Simmons visits two of the Baltimore neighborhoods, where last week's shootings occurred. And speaking of gun violence, Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, shares some encouraging news for Baltimore and Maryland about the impact of a handgun law in Connecticut. Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal has an update on business recovery since the April 27 riot.