Two years after the death of Freddie Gray shook Baltimore, did the city let slip an opportunity to achieve lasting change in crime and justice? The six police officers who were charged in Gray’s arrest and death walked free. Promised funding for community-based initiatives has dried up. Crime has risen to startling levels, and arrests are down. Much of the city remains mired in poverty, reports the Baltimore Sun. Schone White, a barber, works near where Gray was arrested near a public housing project on April 12, 2015. “Changes?” White asked. “I haven’t really seen any changes in this area.”
Others say they see reasons to hang on to optimism, perhaps none stronger than a judge’s approval Friday of a consent decree that will direct reforms in the Baltimore Police Department. “I feel like the city’s been engaged in two years of conversation,” said Ray Kelly, president of the No Boundaries Coalition and a longtime Sandtown-Winchester resident. “And [Friday] was the first day of actual change, where now we can start to work to put this damn thing back together.” The city recorded more than 300 killings in each of the past two years. 2015 was the city’s deadliest year, per capita, on record. 2016 was second. Through April 1, homicides are up 60 percent this year compared with the same period in 2015, before Gray’s death. Nonfatal shootings have doubled, and robberies are up nearly 70 percent. “We are living in a danger zone and not getting the protection we need,” said the Rev. Keith Bailey, president of the Fulton Heights Community Organization.