Neisha shows off her neck tattoos, standing outside Gilmor Homes, one of Baltimore’s many public housing projects. The WB stands for West Baltimore, the neighborhood where Neisha grew up and where Freddie Gray died while in police custody, May 2, 2015. (Wil Sands/Fractures Collective)

A vigil marking three months since Freddie died in police custody takes place on Mount Street. This is the place where police stopped the paddy wagon after arresting Freddie, July 13, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

With the toll of civilian deaths at the hands of police officers in the U.S. over 650 this year so far, the national conversation over race relations continues to intensify. Communities such as Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore have become ground zero for discussions and protests about police killings of unarmed black men.

Eager to change the narrative of what he considered “insincere” press coverage of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, photographer William Sands spent several months in the Gilmor Homes housing complex in Baltimore where Gray once lived. Sands also spent an extensive period of time with close friends of Gray — Kiona, Davon, Juan, and Dahzel — to more closely examine the protests and their lives and community in the wake of Gray’s death.

“I’ve been photographing both the protests and their everyday lives in Gilmor Homes. I’ve been looking for images that both contextualize the rage and violence, and celebrate the agency of this community- even in the face of all the odds,” Sands said.


Women dance in front of their cars outside Gilmor Homes during the recording of a music video in memory of Freddie Gray, May 1, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

A protester reminds the media why the protests were occurring as the CVS on North and Penn is looted by hundreds of residents from West Baltimore, April 27, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

Dahzel and a friend remember Freddie Gray on car next to an informal memorial for their fallen friend, May 3, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

Kevin Moore, who recorded the second video of Freddie Gray’s arrest, interviews Kiona in the Gilmore Homes parking lot for the COPWATCH chapter he founded after Freddie’s death, May 2, 2015. (Williams Sands/Fractures Collective)

A friend of Freddie Gray holds his daughter in the parking area of Gilmore Homes. Freddie Gray was arrested in the same parking lot, April 29, 2015. (Wiliam Sands)

A vacant lot across the street from where Freddie Gray was arrested by the police in the parking area of Gilmore Homes. West Baltimore like many other communities in the city, is littered with abandoned brownstones. (William Sands/Fracture Collective)

Kiona and her friend Brianna talk to friends in the street as Kamil and Gen play on a bed, July 5, 2015. (William Sands/Fracture Collective)

Residents of Gilmor Homes watch from their windows as protesters march down Mount Street, April 25, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

A boy reads a book he received from a free book giveaway organized by members of Out For Justice, a non-profit organization run and organized by ex-offenders, or “returning citizens”. The organization works with other returning citizens to support them in their return, and advocates for prison reform and civil rights. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

An empty building on Mount Street. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

Empty seats in the New Shiloh Baptist Church before the funeral service for Freddie Gray. Hundreds eventually turned out for the service, including state senators and other politicians, April 27, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

Pastor Rodney Hudson of the AME church of West Baltimore preaches about justice during a Sunday sermon. Pastor Reggie was the music pastor at the sister church, AME in Charleston, South Carolina, just before moving to Baltimore, July 5, 2015. (William Sands/Fractures Collective)

Friends of Freddie Gray join arms as they march through Baltimore’s harbor area, April 23, 2015. (William Sands./Fractures Collective)

More In Sight:

Baltimore native captures recent tensions in his hometown unlike anyone else

Baltimore in color: One photographer’s vintage-like photos of modern-day Charm City

Before and after: Ferguson during the protests over Michael Brown and now

Documenting the solidarity of a movement in Ferguson and St. Louis, Mo.