Report blasts Baltimore police over racial bias, force

From The Associated Press:

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Justice Department and Baltimore police agreed to negotiate court-enforceable reforms after a scathing federal report released Wednesday criticized officers for using excessive force and routinely discriminating against blacks.

The report, the culmination of a yearlong investigation into one of the country’s largest police forces, found that officers make a large number of stops – mostly in poor, black neighborhoods – with dubious justification and unlawfully arrest citizens when officers “did not like what those individuals said.”

“These violations have deeply eroded the relationship between the police and community it serves,” Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said during a news conference alongside the city’s mayor and police commissioner.

The federal investigation was launched after the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained in the back of a police van. The death set off protests and the worst riots in decades.

The report represents a damning indictment of how the city’s police officers carry out the most fundamental of policing practices, including traffic stops and searches.

“It doesn’t matter, if you’re black you’re going to get stopped. It’s crazy out here,” said Anthony Williams, who is black. He was with his kids and once saw officers chasing a teenager for smoking weed. “There was five of them. They jumped on him. I had to tell my kids they were just playing.”

Donald Whitehead said officers would often jump out of the car and grab people “for no reason at all.”

“One day I was walking down the street to the store, and one of them jumped out on me …

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