Daily Video

August 15, 2016

Report finds pattern of racial discrimination by Baltimore police

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Essential question

How can the relationship between police and African-American communities in the U.S. be improved?


The Baltimore Police Department exhibited a pattern of racial discrimination in recent years, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.

Commissioned in May 2015 after the high-profile case of Freddie Gray, who died after being taken into police custody, the report found notable disparities in arrests of African-Americans in Baltimore and that police there frequently use excessive force.

Baltimore’s population is 63 percent African-American, a group which makes up 91 percent of discretionary offenses and 82 percent of traffic stops.

“These violations have deeply eroded the trust between BPD and the community it serves, trust that is essential to effective policing, as well as to officer and public safety,” said Vanita Gupta, who leads the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged that Baltimore has a history of systemic problems within its police department, but promised that she and the police commissioner will continue working to fix the city’s policing strategy and relationship with the community.

“The difference today is that there is leadership in place that’s determined to get it right, because that’s what the citizens of Baltimore deserve,” Rawlings-Blake said.


Key terms

discretionary — available to be used when and in the manner you decide

disparity — a great difference

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What do you know about the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland?
  2. What is the role of the U.S. Justice Department?
  3. What are some ways to stand up for social justice causes you believe in?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Why does race continue to play a significant role in police practices?
  2. How might findings in the report help to improve the relationship between the police and the people of Baltimore?
  3. How was the Department of Justice able to show that there were disparities in police practices as they relate to African-Americans in Baltimore?
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