The map on the left shows one very tiny dot for each person living in Baltimore. It was made by the Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. White people are blue dots, blacks are green, Asians are red and Hispanics yellow.
Slide between the two maps and you'll immediately notice that the wedge of white Baltimore, jutting down from the Northwest to the city center, is largely free of vacant buildings. But in the black neighborhoods on either side, empty buildings are endemic.
Statistics collected by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance show that in Sandtown, the neighborhood Freddie Gray called home, an astonishing 34 percent of residential properties are vacant or abandoned. Think of your neighborhood, and try to imagine what it would be like if one out of every three homes were boarded up.
The Baltimore Sun recently described Sandtown as "a neighborhood where generations of crushing poverty and the war on drugs combine to rob countless young people like [Freddie Gray] of meaningful opportunities." The neighborhood, where there are only 84 men for every 100 women, is a case study in the phenomenon of "missing black men" recently outlined in the New York Times: places where black men between the ages of 25 and 54 have seemingly vanished, mostly due to incarceration or homicide.
Sandtown currently has more residents in jail than any other neighborhood in Baltimore, according to a recent report by the Justice Policy Institute and the Prison Policy Initiative. As those men have been taken away or killed -- or both, in Freddie Gray's case -- they've left empty houses to be boarded up and empty shoes that may never be filled.