News Release

Baltimore: Police as “Occupation”


The New York Times reports: “Maryland’s governor activated the National Guard on Monday and the city of Baltimore announced a curfew for all residents as a turbulent day that began with the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, the nation’s latest symbol of police brutality, ended with rioting by rock-throwing youths, arson, looting and at least 15 police officers injured.”

STEPHEN JANIS, stephen at, @TheRealNews
Janis, an award-winning Baltimore-based investigative reporter now with The Real News, is author of You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths About Policing in Baltimore and Beyond and co-author of Why Do We Kill?: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore. See two of his most recent reports: “In Freddie Gray’s Neighborhood, Residents Say Police Harassment is Constant” and “At Freddie Gray’s Funeral, A Call for Real Change.”

Conway is currently a producer at the Real News Network, which is based in Baltimore. In a new segment, he stresses that what’s going on in Baltimore is not just about “the death of Freddie Gray, but it was a situation in which the community didn’t have any support in terms of resources. The community suffered from the lack of opportunities for young people, there were no jobs in the community. Institutional racism, the way the police policed the area, was considered by a lot of the residents in the area to be an occupation. So eventually all the speakers [at Gray’s funeral] called for an investigation and they ended that with ‘No Justice, No Peace.’ …

“Maryland has the highest number of people killed in the last three years by a police department, 111 to date. It’s higher than any other state, 41 percent of them were unarmed, a large majority of them were black. … No police officers have been charged. And I think the difference between what’s happening here in Baltimore now and what happened in South Carolina just a month ago is that those officers were fired. An investigation was launched immediately. Here in Baltimore there has been no feedback whatsoever. There’s been silence from the government, there’s been silence from the police department. And young people in the street are not only frustrated, but they fear for their lives.”

In December, The Real News held a town hall: “Should the Community Control the Police?” Conway said then that the police department’s “primary mission is to protect wealth and property and to protect those people that are wealthy and that own that property. And the reaction in the community is to keep the community completely under control, those people that don’t have any wealth and don’t have any power. They have to maintain a certain level of control.”

Conway was a leader of the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party and was released from prison on March 4, 2014 after having served 43 years and 11 months.

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from Thursday: “Baltimore: Policing and “Pathology of Murder.”