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J.M. Giordano

Thousands gather in Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray

Social media continues to play a role in visualizing the racial tensions over police brutality.


Aja Romano


Posted on Apr 26, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 11:46 pm CDT

Black America’s frustration and anger over racialized police brutality ratcheted up another notch in a post-Ferguson landscape last night, as major protests ground Baltimore to a halt over the death of Freddie Gray.

On April 19, a 25-year-old black man named Freddie Gray died in Baltimore, a week after police arrested him on April 12. Gray, who was not under suspicion for a crime at the time he fled authorities, ran because he feared a police beating, a friend told the Baltimore Sun. Cellphone video surfaced showing him screaming in pain as police dragged him to a waiting van without calling for medical assistance.

Gray was not under suspicion for a crime at the time of his arrest. After he saw police, he ran away from them, prompting the police to give chase. The six officers involved in Gray’s arrest were later suspended with pay. Although they claimed that they arrested him “without force,” Gray’s injuries at the time of his death included a severed spine and a smashed voice box.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the city has paid millions over the last six years to settle lawsuits alleging extreme violence on the part of its police force. On Friday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake described the police department’s handling of the arrest as “unacceptable.” 

Social media played a major part in documenting last night’s events, including violence on both sides.

One video shows protests escalating as white bystanders throw objects back at the protestors and police attempt to get them to safety: 

Compilation footage shows protests proceeding peacefully, then eventually escalating as protestors vandalized police cars:

Footage also showed police holding down and beating Baltimore photojournalist J.M. Giordano, who documented the incident along with the protests on his Instagram account:

Although media reports described the protests as chaotic, on Twitter, witnesses claimed that wasn’t the case, and many accounts showed peaceful protest.

Frustrated bystanders continued to point out double standards between the treatment of white suspects and their black counterparts, as well as the difference between the empowered police force and the protestors:

Protestors outside of Baltimore also joined in support.

The Baltimore police department released additional footage of Gray’s arrest in anticipation of last night’s massive protest, but questions about the events surrounding his death remain. In the meantime, his death continues to unite the city.

Photo via J.M. Giordano/Instagram

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*First Published: Apr 26, 2015, 1:54 pm CDT