The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) calls for immediate redress for the death of Freddie Gray and the long record of excessive use of force by the Baltimore Police Department in order to de-escalate tensions in Baltimore during this difficult period. The announcement of a state of emergency and the deployment of the Maryland State Police, the National Guard, and other law enforcement agencies should not deter state and local officials from the broader goals of bringing stability to the city of Baltimore by completing a thorough investigation and full accounting of the events that led to Mr. Gray’s death. While understanding the important responsibility of law enforcement to protect the lives of all Baltimore residents in this volatile situation, LDF calls upon newly deployed law enforcement to exercise extreme care and sound judgment in its interactions with Baltimore residents who have been traumatized by recent events.
“Yesterday’s developments in Baltimore should by no means tarnish what have otherwise been peaceful protests by Baltimore citizens who have legitimate concerns about the conduct of law enforcement towards African-Americans or derail efforts to repair the deeply frayed relationship between local law enforcement and the communities they have pledged to serve and protect”, said LDF’s President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “The events in Baltimore are part of a larger systemic problem in law enforcement that must be confronted and that begins with transparency and accountability for what occurred on that unfortunate day that led to the death of Freddie Gray.”
“This month alone we witnessed the police-involved deaths of Walter Scott in N. Charleston, Eric Harris in Tulsa and now Freddie Gray in Baltimore, demonstrating that police violence against African Americans is a growing problem,” says Monique Dixon, Senior Policy Counsel for Criminal Justice. “Although policing is primarily a state and local issue, federal policymakers could play a role in ending police abuse and biased policing by conditioning the receipt of federal funds on: the collection and analysis of use-of-force, pedestrian and traffic stop data to identify and address racial disparities; training officers on appropriate use of force and de-escalation tactics; and the creation and implementation of clear measures of accountability to enforce these requirements.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund or LDF.