Five years ago this week, riots consumed the streets of Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The city is still struggling to recover.
Baltimore was added to a growing list of cities — Ferguson, Mo., and New York among them — in which black people died at the hands of police, unearthing years of simmering distrust and animosity.
Unrest followed Gray’s funeral as youths who left schools joined others in throwing rocks at police outside a mall. The riot quickly spread to Pennsylvania and North avenues, which became an epicenter of disturbances that left dozens of properties and vehicles in flames and stores looted.
The mayor declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew and called in the National Guard to restore order.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby later charged six police officers — three white, three black — with various crimes in connection with Gray’s death.
But Mosby’s efforts fell short, and after three officers were acquitted, the city’s top prosecutor decided in July 2016 to drop criminal charges against the three remaining officers, failing to live up to an earlier promise to “deliver justice” for Gray’s family.
In an inquiry launched after Gray’s death, the U.S. Justice Department found rampant discrimination on the police force, including unconstitutional and discriminatory stop-and-frisks of African Americans.
An independent monitor still oversees the police force, and crime continues to be the top concern in the city. A tribute mural to Gray remains at the site where he was arrested, yet the neighborhood is much like it was before his death.