TRNN Top Stories 2015: Exclusive documents obtained by The Real News show how police officers engaged in a pattern of abuse before the killing of Freddie Gray by arresting teenagers who were waiting to take the bus back home in the same neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore that would erupt and lead to the chaos seen this week.
This is the scene where it all began. The site of the first clashes between police and juveniles that escalated into a night of rioting and destruction. It thrust Baltimore onto the national stage in the wake of the killing of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody. The governor of Maryland announced a state of emergency and the mayor imposed a week-long curfew. Little was said in the media about what sparked Monday’s outburst. But The Real News has obtained documents from an anonymous source that suggest a pattern of harassment over the past two weeks since the death of Gray. Police officers have been arresting mostly young African-American students after they got let out of schools and after they refused police orders to get on the bus and go home. According to the Baltimore Police arrest reports acquired by THE REAL NEWS, officers arrested teenagers as young as 14- and 15-years-old. According to the documents, police were asking students which bus they were waiting for. When the bus arrived and students didn’t board, presumably in an act of protest, the police officers placed them under arrest for trespassing and loitering on MTA property. Many students yelled back. For example, one 16-year-old girl who we won’t name defended her cousin, calling the police “fake […] y’all don’t have to lock her up,” she said. While it’s unclear whether those sorts of arrests repeated themselves on Monday and maybe even triggered the uproar, it’s very likely that it contributed to the deep sense of anger and frustration that has rocked Baltimore since the death of Freddie Gray. For the Real News, Thomas Hedges and Stephen Janis reporting from Baltimore.