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Wednesday, 29 April 2015



Origami Dwarf, designed by Eric Joisel, folded by Strongpaper from uncut square of VOG crumpled paper: photo by Strongpaper, 17 August 2013

"They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami... He was all bent up."
-- eyewitness to Freddie Gray arrest by Baltimore police
What Went Down With Freddie Gray? Rev. Jesse Jackson and Lawrence Bell, former Baltimore City Council president: Democracy Now! 28 April 2015

For the second time in six months, National Guard troops have been deployed in response to police brutality protests. Baltimore erupted in violence Monday night over the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-American man who died of neck injuries suffered in police custody after he was arrested for running. Police say at least 27 people were arrested as cars and stores were set on fire, and at least 15 officers were injured. 

Baltimore public schools are closed, and a weeklong curfew is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Also Monday, thousands gathered to pay their respects during Freddie Gray’s funeral, including our guest, Rev. Jesse Jackson, civil rights leader, and president and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson says the violence "diverts attention away from the real issue" that West Baltimore is an "oasis of poverty and pain" where residents have long suffered from police abuse and economic neglect. We also speak with Lawrence Bell, former Baltimore City Council president. He grew up in and represented the impoverished area where Freddie Gray was arrested, and argues the "chickens are coming home to roost."

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in The Hague in The Netherlands, but we begin today’s show in Baltimore, Maryland, where National Guard troops have been deployed following violent protests over the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-American man who died of neck injuries suffered in police custody after he was arrested for running. His family has said his spine was "80 percent severed" at the neck. Police say they arrested at least 27 people on Monday night. At least 15 police officers were injured during the uprising. Overnight, cars and stores were set on fire, including a CVS and a portion of an historic Italian deli that’s been in the city since 1908.
Following Ferguson, this marks the second time in six months the National Guard has been called to restore order after police brutality protests. This time, protests erupted in the West Baltimore neighborhood where Gray was first arrested for making eye contact with a lieutenant and then running away. On Monday night, Maryland Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency. Today, Baltimore’s public schools are closed, and a week-long curfew is in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake addressed the city Monday night.

MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: What we see tonight that is going on in our city is very disturbing. It is very clear there is a difference between what we saw over the past week with the peaceful protests, those who wish to seek justice, those who wish to be heard and want answers, and the difference between those protests and the thugs, who only want to incite violence and destroy our city.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier on Monday, thousands gathered to pay their respects during Freddie Gray’s funeral, including Maryland Democratic Congressmember Elijah Cummings, a delegation from the White House, and the family of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after a New York City police officer put him in a banned chokehold. This is Gray family attorney Billy Murphy.

WILLIAM MURPHY: You know, most of us are not here because we knew Freddie Gray, but we’re all here because we know lots of Freddie Grays. Let’s don't kid ourselves. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for video cameras. Instead of one cover-up behind that blue wall after another cover-up behind that blue wall, and one lie after another lie, now we see the truth as never before. It’s not a pretty picture.
AMY GOODMAN: Baltimore police say they expect to present a report on Gray’s death to the state’s attorney’s office by Friday, but officials have not said when the report will be made public. Six officers involved in Gray’s arrest have been suspended with pay.
Well, for more, we go to Baltimore, where we’re joined by two guests. The Reverend Jesse Jackson is with us, civil rights leader, president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He spoke at Freddie Gray’s funeral Monday. And Lawrence Bell rejoins us, former Baltimore City Council president. He represented West Baltimore, which is the area where Freddie Gray was arrested.
We welcome you both back to Democracy Now! Reverend Jackson, let’s begin with you. Your reaction to what took place last night, as well as your message in the funeral of Freddie Gray?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, what happened last night was very disturbing. It was a expression of hopelessness and self-destructive violence, which diverts attention away from the real issues. For example, Fred Gray was the 111th [inaudible] killed by a policeman since 2011 -- one-one-one, not just the first one. Secondly, in that same area, unemployment is 30 percent. There are 18,000 vacant homes or abandoned lots, because government -- because banks ran subprime lending and predatory lending on people. The banks got bailed out; the people got left out. So the abounding poverty, because you have the most people in that area who have been to prison who come out and can’t vote and then can’t get the job because they’ve been to prison. So you have -- you really have this oasis of poverty and pain, and you must, beside last night, address the structural crisis in Baltimore and urban America, period.
AMY GOODMAN: Lawrence Bell, the area that you represented when you were in the City Council is the area where Freddie Gray was arrested -- arrested, again, according to the lieutenant, she made eye contact with him, and he ran away, and that was grounds for arresting him. Can you talk about this community where—that you have represented for so long?
LAWRENCE BELL: Well, in fact, I was actually born a few blocks away from where the incident occurred, so it really touches me personally. You know, I think that there have been years of neglect, not only of West Baltimore, but all over the inner city of Baltimore. And I think that the chickens are coming home to roost. I mean, this is a tale of two cities. This has been going on for a long time, not only the police abuse, which escalated in the early 2000s under the zero-tolerance policy of Martin O’Malley, but also just the economic violence that has been committed against a people. And you have a lot of young people, many of whom have already been arrested because of the mass arrests that have gone on in Baltimore City. They see no hope. They see no way out. And they’re acting out, unfortunately, and it says that we’ve got to wake up and do something.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Amy, I think also, we were in church yesterday, where governor noticed that the gangs were coming together, and they want to shoot a police. Immediately there was a kind of panicky move to do a lockdown on the city. There were several schools, when the public transportation stopped, did not have a way home. You had thousands of kids on the streets with no way to get home, because when the city went to lockdown rather than a policeman get shot, transportation stopped, businesses closed, and kids had nowhere to go. In that environment, the whole thing exploded.

Clearing protesters
Baltimore City police in riot gear clear protesters gathered at North and Pennsylvania avenues to enforce the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew Tuesday night, one day after a riot and wide spread looting resulting from the Freddie Gray protest: photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun, 28 April 2015

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. This is just after he announced the state of emergency and activated the National Guard to respond to unrest in Baltimore.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN: Everybody believes we need to get to the answers and resolve this situation, the concern everybody has about what exactly happened in the Freddie Gray incident. That’s one whole situation. This is an entirely different situation. This is lawless gangs of thugs roaming the streets, causing damage to property and injuring innocent people, and we’re not going to tolerate that.
AMY GOODMAN: "Lawless gangs of thugs," Reverend Jackson. Your response?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, I think such language does not aid the situation. For example, those people, those bankers who engaged in subprime and predatory lending and took people’s homes and drove them out of the middle class into poverty, what is their name? Or 111 killings in three years in one area, what do you call those who did the killing, when there was no camera? When you look at 30 percent unemployment, TIF money spent downtown for the big new Baltimore, and pension money and banking money. So you have, as Brother Bell says, you have downtown blossoming, booming Baltimore, and then you have the rest of them. Now, we did not engage in name calling on that matter, but we do know that that strategy does not work. And we really need to look at, Amy, the Kerner Commission Report of 50 years ago. It says when you have this radical racial divide and economic divide, there must be some remedy, not just reaction.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson, can you also respond to Freddie Gray’s arrest? This issue of -- this is according to the police, that he made eye contact with the lieutenant and ran away, that’s what they allege. The attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, said running in a high-crime area is grounds for arrest.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, you know, it’s interesting enough that police here and firemen have the right to work in the city and live in the suburbs. Some live as far away as York, Pennsylvania. And so they come in as an occupying force, not as neighbors. So, often people are afraid of them, because they’re not taxpaying neighbors whose children go to school with their children. So there is this gap between police and people. And you really ought to have residential requirements for policemen and firemen. Those who get nectar from the flower should sow pollen where they pick up nectar.
AMY GOODMAN: Baltimore Orioles chief operating officer John Angelos, who is the son of the owner, Peter Angelos, took to Twitter this weekend to defend the Baltimore protests after they were attacked on local sports radio. He wrote, quote, "my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state." Again, so wrote Baltimore Orioles chief operating officer John Angelos, who is the son of the owner, Peter Angelos. Reverend Jackson?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: You can’t get any better than that, because you have this combination of guns in, drugs in, jobs out, and alienation between those who live in the surplus and those who live in the deficit. So there are some causal factors that must not be ignored. We regret that there was the expression of street violence last night, because, one reason, it’s not redemptive; two, it diverts attention from the agenda put on that letter. We should be discussing today the Kerner Report as opposed to what happened last night. But there is a cause-effect relationship. But we should do well not to panic in the face of last night, and move toward the remedies. Since this is so close to Washington, why not make this an urban model for reconstruction?
LAWRENCE BELL: Let me also add to what Reverend Jackson just said. You know, back in the 1930s, my grandfather came from North Carolina to Baltimore with very little education and got a good-paying job at Bethlehem Steel. Now, those -- like the grandparents of many of those young people out there yesterday, those jobs have dried up. And this is a generation that -- where there are too many people seeking too few jobs in Baltimore City. They are disadvantaged. And then, on top of that -- and I do agree with the comments of Mr. Angelos -- you know, people on the street in Sandtown, in Mondawmin, in West Baltimore, they know already what happened to Freddie Gray. And the thing that concerns us is that if so many people know what happened, they know the officer that was involved, they know how he was killed, if they know, why don’t the police know? Why doesn’t the mayor know? Why doesn’t -- why isn’t that announced sooner? So it says something about the priorities in that area. And something really has to change soon.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: And this blue code of [inaudible], it means that police must -- will not police other police. They know who engage in violence and excessive force. And because police will not tell on police -- gangbangers will not tell on gangbangers, getting that model from adults. The corruption of the relationship between people and police, that corrupt relationship must end.

Past curfew

A woman runs for safety as police throw tear gas canisters while enforcing curfew in Baltimore, a day after unrest that occurred following Freddie Gray's funeral: photo by Patrick Semansky/AP via Baltimore Sun, 28 April 2015

AMY GOODMAN: This is a clip from a video report by The Real News Network titled "A Walk Through the Neighborhood Where Freddie Gray Lived and Died," in which reporter Stephen Janis follows reporter and former prisoner Eddie Conway and our guest, Lawrence Bell, as they visit a rundown basketball court in the Gilmor Homes housing project, where Freddie Gray was arrested.

LAWRENCE BELL: I have a lot of interest in this community, and I’m saddened to see how things have gone downhill.  

STEPHEN JANIS: This week, Bell joined The Real News correspondent Eddie Conway to talk about politics, crime and punishment, and what needs to happen to improve the city he loves. 

LAWRENCE BELL: This city has been socially, economic and politically subdued and downtrodden so much in the last several years that people don’t even complain about it anymore. And they’re afraid to.

STEPHEN JANIS: The discussion took place against a symbolic backdrop for both men: a dilapidated basketball court in the Gilmor Homes housing project in West Baltimore, left in disrepair by the city for nearly 17 years. Conway has raised money to fix the court, but the city has blocked his efforts. 

EDDIE CONWAY: So we’ve got a company that’s certified, that does this, that’s donating some of the stuff.


EDDIE CONWAY: And they’re going to be in from the beginning to the end to make sure it’s done.

STEPHEN JANIS: The city told us the community was divided on whether they wanted the court rebuilt. But residents we spoke to said they supported fixing it.

GILMOR HOMES RESIDENT: Look at it. This court ain’t been up since I was about three. I ain’t seen these goals up --

EDDIE CONWAY: Yeah, yeah.

GILMOR HOMES RESIDENT: From my own visual eyes, I ain’t seen them up yet.
AMY GOODMAN: That report from The Real News Network. Lawrence Bell, if you would like to elaborate further, and also, can you talk about the calls for the autopsy report to be released, and what more you feel needs to be done? 

LAWRENCE BELL: Well, you know, the great irony is that that walk that I did with Eddie Conway happened just a few days before the incident. You know, it’s amazing.
LAWRENCE BELL: Right before that happened. We didn’t know that was going to happen. We happened to be there. And it just underscored what we were talking about. People are very upset. There is a lack of interest in just valuing the people that live in the neighborhood. And it’s been exacerbated by this situation, because we think information needs to come out a lot sooner. You know, people have seen these shows like 48 Hours, where they’re told that within the first two days or so, law enforcement should have an idea of what happened in a homicide. And here we see, nearly two weeks after this incident -- everybody in that neighborhood and all the people in the street know. I’ve talked to people. I’ve talked to police officers. And as Reverend Jackson said earlier, one of the problems we have -- and this is something here in Baltimore and all around the country that needs to be dealt with -- is that even when we have African-American police and even well-intentioned white police officers, who see something that goes wrong, and they know somebody, as in this instance -- and matter of fact, in this instance, the primary perpetrator was known to be racist. He was known to be negative in that neighborhood. Everybody knew it over in Western District, and he was still -- he’s still been there. Now, when so many people know what’s going --
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Other incidents on tape.
LAWRENCE BELL: On tape. And there are people who saw it. They know where the paddy wagon stopped, when they took the young man out, they beat him up again. They have all these people who know this. Why has it taken two weeks to come out with a report, with an autopsy? If this had happened right after the incident, and someone was being fired immediately, OK, and people were let go, this would not have escalated to this point. So I think it’s a lesson for all of us here --
AMY GOODMAN: We just have 20 seconds.
LAWRENCE BELL: -- and throughout the country.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: That’s what the man in Charleston, South Carolina, did.
AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds. I want --
REV. JESSE JACKSON: He moved quickly.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke at Freddie Gray’s funeral yesterday, founder, president of PUSH now. And thank you so much to Lawrence Bell for being with us, former Baltimore City Council president, represented West Baltimore, which is the area where Freddie Gray was arrested.

Ghost Ballpark

It might not seem fair, but Orioles rightfully take a back seat to security concerns throughout city
Camden Yards in Baltimore, where the Baltimore Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox on 29 April in the first major league baseball game ever played without admission of fans: photo via Baltimore Sun, 28 April 2015

John Angelos, chief operating officer and son of the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, rebutted a local sports talk show host's condemnation of the city's recent protests following the death of 25-year-old man who died of a severed spine while in police custody, Freddie Gray, in a series of tweets reassembled into a single text by the site Refinery29, 28 April 2015:

Baltimore protests: photo by Patrick Semansky/AP, 28 April 2015

Freddie Gray: childhood painted in lead

Gray family lead paint lawsuit

Freddie Gray, who died from injuries while in police custody, was raised with his sisters in this rowhouse. They filed a lawsuit alleging lead paint poisoning: photo by Kim Hairston/ Baltimore Sun, 29 April 2015
Beginning of Freddie Gray's life as sad as its end, court case shows: Freddie Gray's childhood marred by lead paint, according to lawsuit: Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun, 29 April 2015

In a boxful of documents stored in Baltimore City Circuit Court, the outlines of an all-too-familiar inner-city childhood emerge.

The life of Freddie Gray Jr., who died Sunday from a severe spinal cord and other injuries sustained in police custody, had a beginning as tragic, in a way, as his end.

As children, he and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to multiple educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home they rented for four years.

With so much of its housing stock predating laws banning lead in paint, Baltimore continues to wrestle with the after-effects on thousands of children who have inhaled or ingested the toxic metal.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children's deficits -- poverty, frequent moves and their mother's drug use, for example -- the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

The following year, Gray's sisters purchased a home on East Lorraine Avenue where the family has been living.

The case and the four fat volumes of documents it generated provide details missing from the current public snapshot of Gray, the 25-year-old man at the center of national furor over allegations of police brutality.

Gray was found unresponsive in the back of a prisoner transport van under circumstances that remain unexplained and died a week later. His death is being investigated by local and federal authorities.Included in the lead paint case file are photographs of a chubby-cheeked, smiling boy, his two sisters and a dog, as well as a deposition during which Gray acknowledged that he didn't particularly like animals. In the background of photos are the walls and windows with crumbling paint that is alleged to have poisoned them.

All three of the children -- Carolina, now 27, and twins Freddie and Fredericka -- were born "preemie," Gloria Darden said in a deposition.

"They were real small and they had to keep them inside the hospital for a couple months, like until they gained five pounds," Darden said of the twins. "I had them too early, had to have them like when I was seven months pregnant."

While the family lived in a number of different houses during Gray's childhood, the lawsuit focuses on 1459 N. Carey St., where he lived from ages 2 to 6. The "beat up" house, as Darden described it, had "peeling and peeling" paint in every room. The rent was $300 a month

"Regardless of who I represented, or what the issues were, I have nothing but sympathy for Ms. Darden and her other surviving children, and my heart goes out to them as a human being for what they're going through."

Neither Naugle, of the Bodie Law Firm, nor the Grays' attorney in the lawsuit, Cara O'Brien of the law offices of Evan K. Thalenberg, would discuss the details of the case or the amount of the settlement.

Among the evidence were the results of blood tests conducted on the siblings as children that showed all of them had lead levels above the 10 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dL) that state law defines as the threshold for lead poisoning. (Experts say there are no safe levels of lead, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider anything above 5 mg/dL cause for concern.)

Freddie Gray, for example, was tested as having between 11 mg/dL and 19 mg/dL in six tests conducted between 1992 and 1996, court documents show.

The siblings were treated for lead at Kennedy Krieger, the documents show. Family members said Darden and her partner, Richard Shipley, who is considered the children's stepfather, tried to ameliorate the lead problem.

Shipley said in a September 2009 deposition that the children should be on "certain diets" to help prevent lead absorption. (Iron- and calcium-rich foods, among others, help minimize the amount of lead absorbed by the body.)

"We kept them on a pretty nice diet," Shipley said. "I did because I did most of the food shopping."

He said they also were told to keep the windowsills clean.

"Gloria was an excessive cleaner," Shipley said.

The house had three bedrooms, for Darden, the two girls and Freddie. But in Freddie's June 2009 deposition, he said that because he was so young then, he mostly remembers sleeping with his mother.

"I used to end up in my mother's bed," he said. "She always used to say like I used to sleep with her. She used to call me 'the mama's boy.'"

Smoke canister
A protester kicks a smoke canister toward the police line at North and Pennsylvania avenues on Tuesday night, one day after a riot and wide spread looting resulting from the Freddie Gray protest: photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun, 28 April 2015

As tends to happen in such litigation, the background of the plaintiffs and their family came under scrutiny.

One doctor, called by the defense, noted in her deposition that in 2002 the family came to the attention of Child Protective Services, which reported they were living in a house without food or electricity.

And Darden was questioned about her education, parenting and drug use in an April 2009 deposition.

She said she had never been to high school, and when asked if she had been told to leave middle school, responded, "Yeah, something like that." She also said she couldn't read, which hampered her ability to help Freddie and his siblings.

Darden said she helped her son learn to count, but "that's it, you know. I can't teach him nothing else. … I can't help him with nothing else but raise him."

Under questioning, she said she began "sniffing" heroin when she was 23, according to the deposition transcript. She said she had used it perhaps once a day but then entered treatment.

"Now I don't do it," she said. "Since I went into a program and I'm doing good now."

William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., who has been representing Gray's family since his death, declined to comment or make them available for an interview.

During Freddie Gray's deposition, he talked about the peeling paint in almost all the windows. He said he had been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. His sisters spoke of having to repeat grades and other problems.

As is common in lead paint cases, the defense argued that the children's troubles in school were not necessarily caused by lead poisoning. Rather, poverty, parenting issues and other socioeconomic forces might have come into play, the defense experts said.

But Ruth Ann Norton, a longtime Baltimore-based advocate for lead-poisoned children, said the science is clear on how exposure can damage the developing brain of a youngster.
"This is the toxic legacy of lead-based paint," said Norton, who heads the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and is a founding member of the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission.

"Our kids are ill equipped to stay in the classroom, finish school. They're very unlikely to go on to higher education. They're less likely to be able to hold a job," she said. "They're less equipped to be able to overcome the poverty and other circumstances that pull them down."

Norton said she is angered when people try to diminish the danger of lead poisoning and instead point to other factors. At high levels, doctors say, lead poisoning can cause damage to the brain and central nervous system.

"Children with lead poisoning will have defects, regardless of whether their parents are 'nice' or not," she said.

The Grays' case was scheduled to go to trial in February 2010. It had been postponed to that date because the Grays' lawyers had four different lead paint trials scheduled to begin in the first two weeks of December 2009. All were against Rochkind.

Lead paint litigation is "all we do," according to the website of Evan K. Thalenberg, whose firm represented the Grays. The site also says the firm has "recovered over $100 million for our clients and changed their lives." Thalenberg did not return calls for comment.

Naugle, the defense lawyer, recalled that he deposed Freddie Gray in prison. The case file showed a request that he be brought from the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup for the trial. He was then serving time for a conviction of drug possession with intent to deliver.

But both sides agreed to a settlement. It is not known if the Gray siblings received a monetary award, but a friend said the house on Lorraine Avenue was bought with lead paint money.

State property records show Carolina Gray and Fredericka Gray purchased the home in 2011 for $112,000.

Freddie's dead. What went down?

Freddie Gray taken into custody

Freddie Gray is seen being taken into custody by Baltimore Police on April 12 in this still from a cell phone video: photo via Baltimore Sun
The 45-minute mystery of Freddie Gray's death: Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun, 25 April 2015

When Freddie Gray briefly locked eyes with police at 8:39 a.m. on a corner of an impoverished West Baltimore neighborhood two weeks ago, they seemed to recognize each other immediately. As three officers approached on bicycles along West North Avenue, the 25-year-old Gray was on the east corner of North Mount Street chatting with a friend, according to Shawn Washington, who frequents the block.

"Ay, yo, here comes Time Out," a young man on the opposite corner yelled, using a neighborhood term for police.

Gray swore, taking off on foot as the officers began hot-stepping on their pedals to catch up. One officer jumped off his bike to chase Gray on foot, police said.

"That was the last time I seen that man moving," said Washington, 48.

Investigators with the city police and other agencies are still trying to recreate the events of the next 45 minutes, during which Gray sustained a severe and ultimately fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody.

But in its own investigation, The Baltimore Sun found that police missed the opportunity to examine some evidence that could have shed light on events. For example, by the time police canvassed one neighborhood looking for video from security cameras, a convenience store camera pointed at a key intersection had already taped over its recordings of that morning.

The Sun also found that accounts from residents conflicted with the official version of events, including a police account that Gray's arrest was made "without force or incident."

City officials have released a partial timeline of the events of April 12, and investigators have focused on his stop-and-go, roundabout trip through the city in the metal cage of a police transport van. A lieutenant, a sergeant and four other officers involved in Gray's arrest and transport have been suspended with pay pending the results of the police investigation.

Still, much of what happened to Gray on the cool, partly cloudy and breezeless morning of April 12 remains a mystery.

Officials have declined to provide 911 call recordings related to Gray's arrest or injury, citing the open investigation, and police have declined to provide dispatch recordings that would contain any conversations between officers and dispatchers while Gray was in custody. The timeline for when and where the van stopped remains incomplete, and no time has been provided for the van's last stop, back on North Avenue for another pickup before its arrival at the Western District police station.

Insights into the critical minutes between Gray's arrest and the call for paramedics can be gleaned from residents who said they observed several interactions the police had with him.

Taken collectively, they make clear that Gray's arrest and transport were perceived as being wholly out of the ordinary -- even in an area where the drug trade makes an arrest a common occurrence.

'Folded up'

The reason Gray was chased by police remains unclear. Police have said it came in part because he ran, raising officers' suspicions in an area known for drug dealing. A police report on the arrest states that Gray "fled unprovoked" and that an illegal switchblade knife was later found on him but provides no other reason for the pursuit.

Neighborhood accounts vary on where Gray ran before reaching Presbury Street and being apprehended by police.

Washington said Gray dipped into "the cut" just south of West North Avenue, an alley that breaks into several directions in the center of a partially boarded-up block of rowhouses. It's a place strewn with broken liquor bottles, adjacent to backyards where dogs still keep watch.

Others say Gray ran straight south down Mount Street.

Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis said Friday that one officer on foot and two on bikes chased Gray "through several streets, several housing complexes," before arresting him. 
 "It's a foot chase and it's a long one."

Still, the arrest occurred just one minute after the initial contact, according to the police timeline.

Temporarily stopping traffic, protesters stretch a flag across a Mercedes on Light Street just south of Harborplace on a march by local residents on the eve of the expected large protest to City Hall over the recent death of local resident Freddie Gray, while in police custody. The march, done, they say, as a message that even a small group can cause large disruptions, began at Lexington Market, where about forty people walked in the streets through Harborplace, and finishing in Federal Hill before returning: photo by Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun

Community outrage over the arrest has been fueled by videos showing Gray -- listed on the police report at 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds -- on the ground before being dragged to the police van. Neighborhood residents and police agree that the videos don't show the whole story, though.

Kevin Moore, a 28-year-old friend of Gray's from Gilmor Homes, said he rushed outside when he heard Gray was being arrested and saw him "screaming for his life" with his face planted on the ground. One officer had his knee on Gray's neck, Moore said, and another was bending his legs backward. 

"They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami," Moore said. "He was all bent up."

Into the van

At 8:42 a.m., police requested a transport van at the scene.

At that point Gray, who had asthma, asked for an inhaler, but Moore said police ignored the request.

Batts has said Gray's trouble breathing was not given the proper attention at "one or two" of the van's subsequent stops.

As Gray screamed and word spread, residents began to pour out of nearby homes. Alethea Booze, 71, who has lived along Mount Street just north of Presbury all her life, said she was cooking in her kitchen when she heard Gray "hollering" outside. Booze, a retired Northrop Grumman production coordinator, had a stroke some years ago and moves slowly, but made it outside nonetheless.

A crowd had started to form, she said, and there was Gray, who used to call her "Mama" and run errands for her to the corner store, lying handcuffed on the ground.

Booze said she winced as police hoisted Gray. His legs appeared broken to her, though police have said Gray suffered no broken bones. Bystanders got more vocal. "Call the ambulance!" Booze remembers saying as police tried to disperse the crowd.

"Police were telling everyone to leave because they didn't want anyone taping," Booze said. "They got real smart and nasty."

At least three cameras mounted on the Gilmor Homes buildings overlook the location, along a low stone wall on the edge of a courtyard. Police have released some footage, but it showed little of the arrest.

In a bystander's video, Gray is shown being pulled to the van, his feet dragging, before standing briefly on his own as he's placed inside the van.

Police said he was upset -- but also breathing and talking.

Michael Robertson, 27, said his friend -- who had a record of drug arrests -- ran because he "had a history with that police beating him."

Placed in shackles

One block south and four minutes later, at 8:46 a.m. at Mount and Baker streets, the van stopped because Gray was acting "irate," police said. Police have also said that paperwork had to be filled out, though they have not provided more detail.

Gray was taken out of the van so officers could place leg shackles on him. Police have said he was not buckled into the van with a seat belt afterward, even though that is required by department policy.

Shouts at the scene brought Tobias Sellers and others running down the street.

Sellers, 59, who is Booze's brother and lives on the same block, said he was among those who started moving toward Gray, and saw police beating him. "They were taking their black batons, whatever they are, and hitting him," Sellers said.

From inside her Gilmor Homes apartment, which overlooks the street north of Baker, Jacqueline Jackson, 53, heard "a big commotion" as she was washing dishes.

She lifted her blinds and window and peered out, looking down on the van. Gray, she said, looked unresponsive. Officers were moving quickly to get him back in the van as people ran down the street from Presbury, Jackson said.

"They lifted him up by his pants, and he wasn't responding, and they threw him in that paddy wagon," Jackson said. "It wasn't like they took him out to see what was going on with him. … I said, 'Call the paramedics!'"

She added, "I could see everything. They're lying. The police are lying."

Police have said that a preliminary report on Gray's autopsy showed he had no injuries except to his spinal cord. No evidence of kicks, punches or other beatings. No evidence of broken limbs.

Baltimore police come forward with new video and new information about Freddie Gray's arrest: still image from WJZ video

Four cameras mounted on the Gilmor Homes buildings overlook the Mount and Baker intersection, but footage released by police has shown little of the officers' interactions with Gray. Police have promised to release more video as it becomes available.

Clearing Mount

At 8:59 a.m., as the van headed toward Central Booking, the driver called for an officer to "check on" Gray.

Police said an officer did respond and had "some communication" with Gray at the intersection of Druid Hill Avenue and Dolphin Street, though they have not described that interaction in detail and have said there is no surveillance footage. Batts said officers called to the van had to "pick [Gray] up off the floor and place him on the seat," but he declined to elaborate.

Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said police still need to determine what Gray's condition was at the intersection and whether the police response during the encounter was appropriate.

The intersection near McCulloh Homes is busy at times. Nearby, the G&A Food Market sits across the street from the Union Baptist Head Start; both have security cameras trained on the street.

One of the market's cameras points toward the intersection where police said the van stopped. Cindy Wang, 28, who works at the market, said police arrived there on Monday, April 20 -- the day after Gray's death but eight days after his arrest -- to inquire about the camera's footage.

By then it was gone.

"They were kind of late, because the camera only had a six-day record," Wang said. "If they came the second day or third day, they could have found it."

The camera on the Head Start building faces Druid Hill, not the intersection. Gayle E. Headen, director of the Head Start center, said a detective arrived there on April 20 and asked to review the footage, without giving a reason. "I didn't think anything of it," Headen said, noting that police have been interested in the footage for drug investigations in the past.

The detective asked to watch the footage from 8:55 a.m. to 9 a.m., and saw a police cruiser pass by at the 8:57 mark but no van, said Headen, who personally took the officer through the footage.

In fact, the footage shows a white van with a blue stripe down its side — like those on police vans — passing by at the 8:54:32 a.m. mark, according to The Baltimore Sun's review of the footage. The police cruiser, with its lights flashing, drives by about three minutes later.

Back to the Western

During the Druid Hill and Dolphin stop, a call came through asking the van driver to return to the 1600 block of W. North Ave. - not far from the spot where Gray and police first made eye contact -- to pick up another person. Such vans are divided by a metal barrier, and the second person was loaded into the section of the van not occupied by Gray.

Police have not described any interaction with Gray at this location. They have declined to identify the second person placed in the van, saying they need to "protect the integrity" of the criminal investigation into Gray's death, in which that person is now a witness.

After the pickup, the van headed south again -- but this time it was headed for the Western District police station rather than Central Booking. When Gray was taken out of the van, Rodriguez said, "he could not talk and he could not breathe."

Beyond damage to his spinal cord, Gray had a crushed voice box.

At 9:24 a.m., officers called a medic to the Western District station, reporting that Gray was in "serious medical distress." The Baltimore Fire Department said the call arrived at 9:26 a.m.

Paramedics responded, spent 21 minutes treating Gray at the station, and arrived at Maryland Shock Trauma Center -- where Gray would fall into a coma and die a week later -- at 10 a.m.

Of the six suspended officers -- Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, and Officers William Porter, Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. -- five have provided statements to police officials. Police have not said which officer has refused. The police union has defended the actions of all those involved.

At recent protests, chants of "We want all six!" have rung out. People in Gilmor Homes are skeptical of any police review of the officers' actions.

Everette Wade, 54, said the "last time Baltimore was in the news" to this extent was more than a decade ago, when coverage broke out over a DVD that highlighted the "Stop 
Snitching" culture of violence against residents who provide information to police.
Wade said he feels today is not all that different.

"Police have a 'Stop Snitching' policy. The good boys in blue cover for each other," he said. 

"That's 'Stop Snitching' all over again, isn't it?"

Black dolls hanging from trees on Fulton avenue in #Baltimore: image via Bondad @GoodnesstheBad, 27 April 2015


TC said...

Curtis Mayfield: Freddie's Dead (live, c. 1973)

Wooden Boy said...

We're all built up with progress
but sometimes i must confess
We can deal with rockets and dreams
But reality what does it mean?

Bell's spot on about the economic violence. Since 2008 the assault's intensified. All that blithe talk of tightening belt buckles.