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STATEMENT: Officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death – A first step, but much more needed

STATEMENT: Officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death – A first step, but much more needed

May 1, 2015 

Contact: Linda Meric, National Executive Director
(303) 628-0925 x15 or lindam@9to5.org

“As prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced that six Baltimore police officers have been charged in the death of Freddie Gray, protesters cheered. Their demands have been heard, and their direct action has made a difference.

But Mosby’s announcement is just the beginning. That’s why marches and demonstrations, in Baltimore and across the country, will continue. Thank State’s Attorney Mosby for charging the police officers who killed Freddie Gray and urge her to drop all charges against protestors.

The legal system now needs to hold Gray’s killers accountable, and law enforcement needs to demilitarize their presence in Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department, with its long and well-documented history of biased policing and excessive use of force, needs to be investigated and held accountable. Strong federal measures to end racial profiling and require police accountability need to be enacted now.

According to a Baltimore Sun investigation, 100 Baltimore residents won $5.7 million in settlements related to police brutality and civil rights violations. While the stories are shocking, almost none of the officers involved in those incidents were held accountable.

The changes needed in Baltimore go way beyond the police. The inequities facing people of color in the city have existed and been worsening for years. The National Economic & Social Rights Initiative reports, “Residents of Baltimore’s wealthy White neighborhoods live an average of twenty years longer than residents of poor Black neighborhoods… Thirty-seven percent of young Black men are trapped in unemployment. The median per capita income among Black people in Baltimore is just $17,000, less than half of the $35,778 per capita income of Whites. An average White household has an astonishing 69 times the net wealth of a Black family, who, decades after the end of Jim Crow, has little more than nothing.”

The changes needed go way beyond Baltimore. People of all races must unite to demand policies in the states and at the federal level to end poverty, employment and housing discrimination, health disparities, lack of quality jobs and schools, and lack of investment in economic and educational opportunities for people of color and low-income families. We need to dismantle the structural racism that undergirds inequality in our nation.

9to5 supports the courageous resistance of activists in Baltimore and across the country, and their vision of a just world for all: A world where Black lives matter. Together, we must continue to generate the widespread public pressure needed to ensure change. This weekend, join thousands in cities across the country for solidarity actions to demand justice.”