As Justice Department civil rights lawyers held a meeting to talk about overhauling the Baltimore police department, another group of Baltimore residents gathered to beg the police to fix the crime in their neighborhoods.
The meetings show a disconnect between those who are concerned about crime and those worried about police reform, reports the Washington Post. Neither group was aware the other one was meeting.
About 40 people, most of them older black women, gathered in a West Baltimore church basement to ask police to return order to their community.
A gas station owner whose parking lot had been taken over by loiterers begged for help; a 17-year old was also fatally shot there. Another man asked about the foot patrol officers that were promised to the community.
Arlene Fisher, a 67-year-old social worker, said more policing is necessary because corner stores are asking to stay open 24 hours.
The meeting with Justice Department lawyers came after the Justice Department released its report on the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). The meeting, organized by No Boundaries co-director Ray Kelly, dealt with abusive behavior used by police when trying to clear up street corners.
The report found that the BPD frequently performed unconstitutional stops, arrests and excessive force that led to different outcomes among black citizens. According to the report, almost half of the 300,000 pedestrian stops the BPD performed between 2010 and 2015, mainly happened in two pre-dominantly black districts.
Kelly told the Washington Post that the debate on whether police discriminate or not is over. He said that the main issue “is to change it so it can actually work, to find ways to address the culture and not just criminalize everyone.”
He added that just cleaning up street corners will not work these days.