One year ago today, Freddie Gray, a twenty-five year old from West Baltimore, died from injuries caused by police when he was unjustly arrested without cause. Fortunately, the arrest was videotaped by Kevin Moore so we could see how the police twisted his body on the ground as they cuffed him and dragged him into a police wagon. His arrest was the final match which sparked mass protests in the city and solidarity protests around the country.
While the harassment of and violence against Freddie Gray was atrocious, it was also not an isolated incident in Baltimore or nationally. It represents the reality that many people, particularly black and brown people, fear or face regularly. It continues today in the treatment of Keith Davis, Jr who has been in the Baltimore jail for almost a year now with a bullet still lodged in his neck after he was wrongly targeted, chased and shot by police for being in the area of a crime.
The Baltimore Uprising was preceded by decades of failed policies, growing poverty and over-policing in communities of color. While hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been and continue to be funneled to wealthy developers, there has been intentional disinvestment in black neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore.
The Uprising exposed what so many of us already knew: that there are two Baltimores, one for the wealthy and one for the poor. But it also brought us together and charged us with the task of doing something about it. In the many rallies and marches last year, there were forces much stronger than anger at the failed systems. There were strong feelings of solidarity, of caring about each other, desires to do things differently and the realization that it was up to us to make change a reality.
One year later, we can see that the spirit of the uprising continues. It is visible in the city elections where the mayor and six city council members have decided to step down and many people are stepping up to take their place. It is visible in the new coalitions of groups such as Baltimore United for Change and Stand Up Baltimore, of which I am a member.
Business as usual in Baltimore is no longer acceptable. People are tired of fifty years of Democratic rule. We must do more than switch out the parts in the Democratic machine, we need to build a party that is rooted in grassroots democracy. We need candidates who are accountable to the people instead of wealthy funders. We need a bold transformative vision for our city.
The Green Party is the political alternative that we need. That's why I'm running and why I am so excited to see the list of talented candidates who are also running. Together, we are creating a transformative platform for economic, racial and environmental justice and we will work together through our respective offices to make it real.
On this day I offer my condolences to Freddie's family, and to all who have been mistreated and oppressed by the current system. I hope that they can take some comfort in knowing that this doesn't have to continue. There are solutions. Let's build on the positive power of the uprising to achieve them.