Will Gray Case Improve Life In Thurgood Marshall’s Old Neighborhood?


The violence that followed the death of Freddie Gray is over in the Baltimore neighborhood called Sandtown-Winchester, and local residents are pessimistic about prospects in what McClatchy Newspapers calls “a warren of boarded-up houses and drug markets that have turned Baltimore into a national symbol of urban neglect.” Local teachers remind students that Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, graduated from a high school in Sandtown, which now leads all of Maryland in the number of residents who are in prison. Residents say they've seen little of the millions of dollars that have been earmarked for neighborhood improvements, and few seem to buy into the fresh promises of resources that came in response to the Gray-inspired protests and riots.

The unprecedented criminal prosecution of six officers in connection with Gray's death has turned Baltimore into the showpiece in a nascent, grass-roots rebellion against police conduct in black communities. The lull in protests feels fragile. Doni Glover, 49, a prominent activist and writer who is one of the last homeowners on his block of Sandtown, says, “All the media-seeking individuals are all gone. Those preachers are all gone. They showed up for the cameras – they're gone. Now what? You can't bring people in to tell black people how to live.”

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