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.

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