In a Baltimore neighborhood where police chased down an African- American man who later died, black residents aimed the brunt of their outrage yesterday at the six officers involved in the incident. They also expressed anger toward the city's mayor and police commissioner, whom they accuse of withholding key facts about the case, reports the Washington Post. That Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts also are black is of no apparent reassurance to an African-American community that for generations has viewed the police with unceasing mistrust. “It doesn't matter who's in the top positions — white, black, Asian,” said Earl Williams, 52, an African American, sitting on his front steps near where police took custody of Freddie Gray on April 12 before he was hospitalized and died. Police said a preliminary autopsy shows that Gray suffered a severe injury to his spine.
As police probe the circumstances surrounding Gray's death, Gene Ryan, head of the city's police union, said the six officers who were suspended with pay “are upset because they feel they did their job.” Police have not identified the race of the officers, but a video of the arrest that was widely distributed shows that three of them are white. Ryan defended the officers' actions when they first stopped Gray, saying they had reasonable suspicion because he was in a high-crime area, had a knife and ran from them. “If he didn't have that knife on him, they would have questioned him and let him go,” Ryan said. “I'm upset with the protesters right now. Before any criminal charges have been filed, they want to put these cops in prison.”