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Justice Not Delayed In Baltimore, but Problems Linger

Posted May 11, 2015

Tianna Acree at the Lexington #BaltimoreUprising solidarity march throughout Downtown Lexington. Photo credit: Pedro Santiago

Tianna Acree at the Lexington #BaltimoreUprising solidarity march throughout Downtown Lexington. Photo credit: Pedro Santiago

News Analysis

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Baltimore’s curfew has been lifted, the officers have been charged, and Freddie Gray has been laid to rest. But the underlying causes of the protests around his homicide remain.
“I think that people need to understand the history of poverty, negligence, and police brutality in the city of Baltimore,” says Jocelyn Providence, a math teacher at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore’s Riverside area.
Last week, she said, there were more absences than usual and her students were more emotional. Many expressed fear, anger, worry, and frustration with the riots that have negatively impacted their communities. She continued, “There are students and residents who are fed up and angered by the continued violence on their lives, whether it be by police, poor education, and poverty.”
Across the country protests continued despite the swift Federal, City and legal response to the killing of Freddie Gray.
First Black female U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch began her first day by focusing her attention on Baltimore and offering the assistance of her department. Within hours of receiving a report from the medical examiner that Gray’s death had been ruled a homicide, Black state attorney Marilyn J. Mosby promptly announced the filing of charges against six Baltimore cops in connection with Freddie Gray’s death. A couple of hours later, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake followed up with a strong warning to rogue cops that her administration would not tolerate racism.
Mosby summed it up this way: “If, with the nation watching, three Black women at three different levels can’t get justice and healing for this community, you tell me where we’re going to get it in our country.”

Lexington’s solidarity march brought men, women and children to downtown on Saturday, May 1. Credit: Pedro Santiago

Lexington’s solidarity march brought men, women and children to downtown on Saturday, May 1.
Credit: Pedro Santiago

On May 2nd in Downtown Lexington, about 100 people joined a Lexington #BaltimoreUprising Solidarity march. This was the first off campus protest for Tianna Acree, a junior at the University of Kentucky from Hopkinsville, KY who participated in a small campus march after the non-indictment of the officer responsible for the death of unarmed teen Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO.
Acree is majoring in sociology and the recent publicity surrounding the massive number of Black deaths at the hands of police has directed her studies. She plans to study the relationship between violence and race in our culture. “Some don’t even know about the institutionalized pressure on Black males today. I thought this march through the streets of downtown Lexington could help start dialogue. We can educate the masses,’’ she said.
As Baltimore turns its attention to addressing the long standing social injustices and securing justice for Freddie Gray, several opportunities to support the youth and longstanding community groups have surfaced.
Baltimore United, a coalition of Baltimore city community groups and concerned citizens, is keeping a list of organizations and churches serving as safe spaces for youth and activists, with free hot lunches each day and opportunities to volunteer. The list, which can be accessed on their website (www.bmoreunited.org), includes contact information for people who are directing incoming support.
The coalition already surpassed its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 to create a bailout fund for protesters and other wrongfully imprisoned people (donations accepted online at www.crowdrise.com/legalbailsupportforbaltimore). A legal assistance and information hotline is also in operation (443-814-9160).
Some of the efforts in Baltimore are spillovers from Ferguson, Mo. Operation Help or Hush, for example, began as a conversation on Twitter. Its mission, “taking social media to the streets,” is an answer to those who critique the legitimacy of “hashtag activism,” or, calling attention to injustices and relaying on-the-ground information on social media.
So far, the group has served daily hot lunch to youth and protesters of all ages, and has been helping coordinate lodging, and demonstrations between Baltimore natives and visiting protesters. Items can be sent to 655 N Bentalou St., Baltimore, Md. 21216; monetary donations are accepted via its website www.operationhelporhush.org or PayPal. The funds also go toward travel for those who want to be on the front line, and to purchase protester supplies such as boards for signs, food, and water.
Other efforts are focused on uplifting the youth who have been on the front lines since Freddie Gray’s homicide.
At the rally, Justice League NYC, a community-based criminal justice task force, will issue a call to action for support of three pieces of legislation that will address police brutality. The Justice League is an offshoot of Harry Belafonte’s organization, Gathering for Justice, and one of the event’s major sponsors.
In addition to these community efforts, demonstrations are ongoing across the country – some in solidarity with Baltimore, some as part of continuing action against police violence, and others as part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement. WeTheProtesters.org and NationalStoptheKilling.com are two resources for finding opportunities around the country to get involved.
Jocelyn Providence protested on three occasions last week, and says that each action was student led. In talking to her students, she expressed that they need support in making themselves heard.
“My students need to know that they are supported by a national movement. I think there are a lot of times where they feel very small and alone, and it is hard for them to see the big picture,” says Providence. “People can help and support form afar by continuing to promote youth leaders and tell the true story of Baltimore, which is not solely riots, but students coming together to change their city for the better.”

The article contains many portions of a piece by Jazelle Hunt, NNPA Washington Correspondent. Edited and compiled by Patrice K. Muhammad.