While watching the Netflix show “Dope”, a documentary-like series that follows around drug dealers, I found myself engaged in an episode set in Baltimore. It featured flashbacks to the protests over Freddie Grey’s death, a man who died while in police custody. This made me wonder, what exactly did the Freddie Grey riots change in Baltimore? The answer – not much.
Little time has passed since those riots, meaning not much data has been collected and submitted. What we do know though is the Baltimore police have had their authority limited since the riots and it’s taking a major toll on crime. Their commissioner has done away with plainclothes police officers and revamped their use of force policy, limiting officer’s ability to operate independently. These laws favor drug dealers and other criminals, making their lives – and crimes – much easier.
“They making laws everyday that’s in our favor man. there’s no more plain clothes police officers in the state of maryland anymore. i love that law”
The data we do have backs these claims. Arrests in Baltimore have dropped almost 10%, but it’s not because the crime rate has dropped. In fact, Baltimore has broken the record for most killings per capita, sitting at 55.8 killings per 100,000 people and the year still isn’t over. So far over 340 people have been killed, almost one per day, and the number is still rising.
So why have arrests dropped? David Simon, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, attributes it to the prosecution of the six officers involved in Freddy Grey’s death by Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby. In an interview with the Guardian, he claims, “What Mosby basically did was send a message to the Baltimore police department: ‘I’m going to put you in jail for making a bad arrest.’ So officers figured it out: ‘I can go to jail for making the wrong arrest, so I’m not getting out of my car to clear a corner,’ and that’s exactly what happened post-Freddie Gray.”
Needless to say, things haven’t turned for the better in Baltimore since the riots. If anything, they’ve gotten worse. Police can’t police and criminals have free reign throughout the city. As murder rates skyrocket, heroin overdoses run rampant, and quality of living decreases, I hope the people who participated in the protests ask themselves one thing: Was it worth it?