Speed Reads

Baltimore

Department of Justice: Baltimore PD violated civil rights

A Department of Justice report finds the Baltimore Police Department routinely conducted unlawful stops and used excessive force, disproportionately targeting black residents.

The report is set to be officially released on Wednesday, the results of an investigation launched after the death of Freddie Gray last year; the 25-year-old died after sustaining a spinal injury in the back of a police van. Six officers were charged in his death, but after one mistrial and three acquittals, the remaining charges were dropped. The report finds that while African-Americans make up roughly 60 percent of the Baltimore population, they are arrested for possession of drugs more than five times as frequently as whites, even though drug use among both populations is about the same. Over a five year period, African-Americans accounted for 95 percent of people stopped by officers more than 10 times, and one black man was stopped 30 times in less than four years, but "despite these repeated intrusions, none of the 30 stops resulted in a citation or criminal charge."

Investigators spoke with officers and a wide range of citizens, who said they believe there are "two Baltimores," with one "wealthy and largely white, the second impoverished and predominantly black," the report states. "Community members living in the city's wealthier and largely white neighborhoods told us that officers tend to be respectful and responsive to their needs, while many individuals living in the city's largely African-American communities informed us that officers tend to be disrespectful and do not respond promptly to their calls for service." The report blames the department's "systemic constitutional statutory violations" on "structural failures."