Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scathing Report on Baltimore Officers Vindicates Black Residents

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scathing Report on Baltimore Officers Vindicates Black Residents

Article excerpt

* 'Zero tolerance' enforcement has created a deep divide between police and many members of the community they serve.

* Constitutional rights routinely were violated and African- Americans bore the brunt of this.

* Unnecessary force was used against minors and other people who presented no threat.

BALTIMORE * With startling statistics, a federal investigation of the Baltimore Police Department documents in 164 single-spaced pages what black residents have been saying for years: They are routinely singled out, roughed up or otherwise mistreated by officers, often for no reason.

The 15-month Justice Department inquiry was prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, the black man whose fatal neck injury in the back of a police van touched off the worst riots in Baltimore in decades. To many people, the blistering report issued Wednesday was familiar reading.

Danny Marrow, a retired food service worker, said that over the years, he had been stopped repeatedly by police for no good reason.

"It started when I was 8 years old and they'd say, with no probable cause, 'Hey, come here. Where are you going?'" he said. "No cause, just the color of my skin."

"Bullies in the workplace," he said. "They don't want you to get angry or challenge their authority, so they'll use force, they'll put the handcuffs on too tight. And if you run, they're going to beat you up when they catch you."

The Justice Department looked at hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including internal affairs files and data on stops, searches and arrests.

The report found that one African-American man was stopped 30 times in less than four years and never charged. Of 410 people stopped at least 10 times from 2010 to 2015, 95 percent were black. During that time, no one of any other race was stopped more than 12 times.

With the release of the report, the city agreed to negotiate with the Justice Department a set of police reforms over the next few months to fend off a government lawsuit. The reforms will be enforceable by the courts.

OFFICIALS PROMISE CHANGE

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis acknowledged the longstanding problems and said they had started improvements even before the report was completed. …

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