Freddie Gray died one week after being apprehended by Baltimore Police officers on April 12th , 2015. The 25 year old black male suffered a severe spinal cord injury and had difficulty breathing prior to his arrest, but Baltimore Police failed to get him the medical attention needed to save his life on multiple occasions. Adding insult to injury, officers failed to buckle Gray in the police wagon after dragging him to the vehicle – commonly referred to as the “rough ride” tactic used to hurt suspects on the way back to the police station.
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets to demand justice for Freddie Gray’s death. Marching peacefully in the street and taking ownership of their city, Baltimore Uprising in Charm City was met with members of the National Guard and police officers in full riot gear. Instead of focusing their attention on the community rallying together peacefully, the uprising in Baltimore was portrayed by the media as violent riots and looting.
“People across the country are rising up against the mass criminalization of communities of color. The Baltimore Uprising is yet another example of how people have come together to transform communities and shed light on the impact of state violence,” said Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President. “The tragic death of Freddie Gray is not an isolated incident and we cannot afford to sit idly by while people of color continue to be killed senselessly by police.”
Limited data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2011 Report signify that at least 4,813 people died in custody of local and state law enforcement agencies from 2003 – 2009. Of these deaths, 61% were classified as homicides. In the past 4 years alone, the city of Baltimore paid more than $5 million to settle police brutality cases.
“This systemic oppression continues to harm, hurt, and kill our black brothers and sisters at a disproportionate rate and enough is enough,” added Gregory Cendana, APALA National Executive Director. “We believe that all Black Lives Matter and APALA will continue to organize in solidarity demand police accountability and push for other necessary reforms.”
APALA encourages those in the area to join Baltimore United (B-More United) in solidarity on Saturday, May 2 at 12 noon in front of Baltimore City Hall for a massive peaceful protest to demand justice for Freddie Gray and accountability for brutal police. To get more information about the rally and how to get involved, visit www.bmoreunited.org.