Last week, a man named Freddie Gray died of injuries received after his arrest by officers of the Baltimore City Police Department. Gray’s death and the ongoing protests have focused local and national media on the violence of police brutality in Baltimore City. Reading stories on the recent history of deaths in police custody, the history of “rough rides” in Baltimore police (both from the Baltimore Sun) and a look back on a decade of police brutality complaints (“The Obscene Culture of Police Brutality”) have helped broaden my understanding of this issue. But when Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore Police Union, stated protests that call for the arrest of the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death “look and sound like a lynch mob” – it is a disturbing reminder that a deeper understanding of American history is essential to reforming an unjust police department. And much of this history is still unwritten.
With all of this in mind, I’ve assembled…
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