Statement on Freddie Gray and Police/Community Conflict in Baltimore
The following can be attributed to Susan Goering, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland:
As every wisdom tradition recognizes, violence begets more violence. We as an organization stand for interrupting that cycle of violence. The tragic destruction and violence that Baltimore suffered yesterday is of a piece with the violence that people in Black communities in Baltimore have experienced daily in their interactions with police. We also know that other systemic forms of violence – in the form of discriminatory housing and education policies – have been perpetrated against the same communities in Baltimore for decades.
The first step in interrupting this cycle must be urgent reforms in how police and communities interact. We must acknowledge that the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death, and the death of others, flows from the militarization of the Baltimore Police Department, and police departments across the country. Over time, the daily injustices, the repeated instances of police brutality, the unconstitutional treatment of poor and minority people – these patterns crush people’s souls.
The basis for creating a relationship of mutual respect between police and communities was evident in the thousands of people who peacefully exercised their First Amendment rights in protesting the death of Freddie Gray. It was also evident in the thousands of people who stood for calm and urged peace in the tension of the day. We know that the path to peace goes through justice. We must move forward on that path with urgency and determination.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
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