TRNN’s Eddie Conway reports on Freddie Gray’s funeral and explains the context for the outburst of anger and frustration by youth in Baltimore
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux, joined by my co-producer Eddie Conway here in the Baltimore studios. We have tons of people out in the street reporting about what’s happening in Baltimore today, but Eddie, you were actually at Freddie Gray’s funeral this morning. Can you just describe for us some of the highlights from that funeral? EDDIE CONWAY, PRODUCER, TRNN: Yes. It was in New Shiloh Baptist Church. The church was completely filled. I believe it was probably 1000 people there. Dignitaries from the state and the local government was there. The congressman Elijah Cummings, the senator. The mayor was there. Leaders from across the country was there, Dick Gregory was there. Jesse Jackson was there. A number of people were there. The message that they put out was, from the speakers, that the situation wasn’t just the situation, the death of Freddie Gray, but it was a situation in which the community didn’t have any support in terms of resources. The community suffered from the lack of opportunities for young people, there was no jobs in the community. Institutional racism, the way which the police policed the area was one which was considered by a lot of the residents in the area to be an occupation. So eventually all the speakers called for an investigation and they ended that with No Justice, No Peace. DESVARIEUX: Okay. And some of these protesters that–the media at least is reporting them as rioters here in Baltimore–we have some of the images behind us, CNN is playing. Some of what you just spoke about are the conditions of this frustration being played out. Is that how you’re seeing it? CONWAY: Well yes, it’s not just frustration. Maryland has the highest number of people killed in the last three years by a police department, 111 to date. It’s higher than any other state, 41 percent of them were unarmed, a large majority of them were black. I think this–. DESVARIEUX: How many police officers were charged? CONWAY: No police officers have been charged. And I think the difference between what’s happening here in Baltimore now and what happened in South Carolina just a month ago is that those officers were fired. An investigation was launched immediately. Here in Baltimore there has been no feedback whatsoever. There’s been silence from the government, there’s been silence from the police department. And young people in the street are not only frustrated, but they fear for their life. DESVARIEUX: Okay. And I feel like with this story – I don’t know about you, but the mainstream media sort of just gets on the scene and they report the drama that unfolds. But there was something that came out today that sort of propelled this narrative. Didn’t the police department actually issued a statement that gangs were going to be colliding – or I should say working hand-in-hand against the police. And that threat actually closed down the mall that was across the street from the high school that let out. Can you just describe a little bit what you heard on the street? CONWAY: Yes. Probably somewhere around or before noon there was a statement released that there would be a riot at the mall. There was a statement released that gangs were plotting to attack police officers. In turn, and half an hour or so later, the mall itself was closed down. Around 2:30 or 3:00, a lot of the schools were locked down. There was reports that there were white supremacist groups that were going to attack the students in the schools, and that kind of stuff. Around 3:00 they let the students out, but they had the entire area cordoned off, and the students had to go through a gauntlet of police. And that’s what happened. There was a clash up there in that particular area where those students were let out of Douglass High School, and they had to make their way to the metro station. And the metro station was closed down. DESVARIEUX: So they had no way to get home, essentially. CONWAY: They had no way to go, they had no way to go and no way to get home. And at the same time they were confronted with not only police officers, but armored vehicles. DESVARIEUX: Okay. Okay, and we saw some of that footage on CNN here, and we’re going to roll some of that in for you guys, too. CONWAY: Well, and I just want to add something else. At that very bus station, the metro station in Mondawmins, there has been continuous arrest of the young people. After they get out of school police have written citations up, they came in the areas, have harassed them while they were waiting for, to get on a bus. If a bus came and they didn’t get on it, some of those students were arrested. And so it’s just been reports now that that area, there’s actually reports out about that, the arrests and so on. And that’s been going on for several months. And so it’s been aggravating and inflaming the tensions up there, and also causing the students up there to be really angry and hostile. And so this is the results of that as well as all the deaths that’s been occurring. DESVARIEUX: Eddie, I know you live in sort of the heart of a lot of this going on right now, so I know you’re going to be reporting for us and giving us updates and all that great stuff. Thank you so much for joining us. CONWAY: Okay. All right, thank you. DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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