Baltimore Reacts to Charges in Freddie Gray's Death: "Strange Fruit Still Grows in Our Community"

May 04, 2015

The six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death have been released after posting bonds of $250,000 to $350,000. Meanwhile, Allen Bullock, an 18-year-old who turned himself in for participating in riots, is facing a bond of $500,000. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman speaks with residents Sunday as they welcome the charges against the officers but note there is much more work to be done to reduce police brutality and improve accountability.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Sunday, I was in Baltimore and spoke to residents about their reaction to the charges against the six officers.

AMY GOODMAN: So we’re walking along the Gilmor houses to a crowd of people. Can you tell me your names?

KAE FIELDS: My name is Kae Fields.

HOOLEY SHELONE: And I’m Hooley Shelone [phon.].

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about what’s behind you right here?

KAE FIELDS: This is the mural for Freddie Gray, a young boy that was brutally murdered by the police officers in Baltimore City. We just came out to show our support, not just support, but love, because this all got to stop, man. If it don’t stop now, it’s just going to be a whole lot worse than what you ever thought you saw.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think has to happen now?

KAE FIELDS: Justice. Justice.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you feel about the indictments?

KAE FIELDS: That was beautiful.

HOOLEY SHELONE: I mean, it’s a good start. It’s a good start. But it’s just the beginning, you know? That’s why it’s important for us, everybody, to get out here and vote, when it’s time to vote, you know? So we can get people like the Marilyn Mosbys in office, you know what I’m saying?

KAE FIELDS: Should get Blake out of here. Get Blake out of here.

HOOLEY SHELONE: It’s just a good look for the city.

KAE FIELDS: Flat out.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say that, the mayor?

KAE FIELDS: Because she’s not a good mayor, period. She should have did what she—she’s supposed to did her job the first day. It don’t take an investigation. If I touch you, and you say—and you tell the police I hit you, they’re going to lock me up. It don’t take an investigation for that. They brutally beat this man to death. It shouldn’t have took a week of chaos for you to indict six police officers that killed this man. That camera right there pretty much see what’s going on from that part of the projects to right here to that corner.


KAE FIELDS: And it don’t take a rocket scientist to say, "Pull the camera up."

AMY GOODMAN: Where was Freddie taken down by the police?

KAE FIELDS: Well, it must have initially started from North Avenue, where they chased him. So they caught him here. And whatever they did here, from—

AMY GOODMAN: Right here?

KAE FIELDS: —from that point to here—yeah.


KAE FIELDS: At least so they say.

HOOLEY SHELONE: Rights, so they say. So they say.

KAE FIELDS: So they say. The police—the police, some of them ain’t—all of them ain’t bad, but just the ones. They know who they are.

HOOLEY SHELONE: Right, right, right, right.

KAE FIELDS: So we got six of them off the streets. Probably about 66 more.

HOOLEY SHELONE: Right, we’ve got to get them out of here, one by one. One by one.

PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!

AMY GOODMAN: We’re here at the Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray lived. You all were just chanting "No justice, no peace."


AMY GOODMAN: You’re wearing a shirt that says?

UNIDENTIFIED: "No one cares."

MARJIA EVANS: "No one cares."

AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?

MARJIA EVANS: Marjia. Marjia Evans.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you mean, "no one cares"?

MARJIA EVANS: I mean, as far as—and I don’t want to say nothing about the police department. I’m just saying, as far as the ones that were involved in the incident itself, they didn’t care. I mean, sometimes people get put in a situation and in authority, and they take it for granted. They take it for granted, you know? And they’re here to protect us, and that’s what we like. I’m not saying nothing about the police department, but those individuals need to be punished for exactly what happened to Freddie Gray. I have a son myself that’s 20 years old, and every day that he walks outside, I worry about him.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you feel about the indictments?

MARJIA EVANS: I’m going to just say it was justice for the people, but it was kind of like a lesser charge. I thought that they was going to be charged with something more serious. But they were charged.

ASHTON TRUE NICHOLS: My name is Ashton, Ashton True Nichols [phon.]. We got a lot of work ahead of us. I done been brutalized by the police. Police has knocked my teeth out. It’s ridiculous. It’s been like this—

AMY GOODMAN: How did you get your teeth knocked out?

ASHTON TRUE NICHOLS: It’s been like this—being beat up by the police, by being beat severely, and then not arrested. Yeah, that’s how they get down. They—

AMY GOODMAN: Did you complain?

ASHTON TRUE NICHOLS: Oh, I did the whole nine yards. It didn’t mean nothing.

AMY GOODMAN: Was it investigated?


AMY GOODMAN: When did it happen?

ASHTON TRUE NICHOLS: This was about four years ago. The police right now, they’re on edge.

AMY GOODMAN: What was your reaction to the state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, handing down the indictments?

ASHTON TRUE NICHOLS: I’m going to say like this. It’s been times where as though people get 20 and 30 charges and might end up with one. So, what she said sounds good, but we want to see the work, because you go to court, you can have 20 charges and end up with one or end up free. So, if people on the streets do it, imagine what’s going to happen when the police is involved. Now that the police is involved and the police got to do it, you don’t think they got top-notch lawyers? A lot of them charges going to be dropped. Because I ain’t hear the right charge: first degree. They knew what they was doing. Yeah, they knew.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re here at Penn and North. Across the street, the CVS pharmacy that was burned is boarded up, and people have written on the brick wall, "Freddie Gray. Police, go home." Behind me, there’s a group of people who are making a video, Baltimore rap artists.

CROWD: Freddie! Freddie! Freddie! Freddie!

NATE: It’s about Freddie, man. He didn’t deserve what he got. Didn’t deserve it. We’re fighting a war every day.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you know Freddie?

NATE: I know Freddie Gray. I grew up with Freddie Gray.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?

NATE: My name is Nate. Freddie was a nice man. He was a great man, you know? And it saddens my heart that he’s not here. You don’t know he was a family man. You know, he loved his family. He loved his sister. He had a twin sister. You know, he loved his family. And they arrested him for no reason. They have a no-tolerance law, where you can’t sit on your own steps or you got to be in motion at all times. You know, things—if we live in a neighborhood, why we can’t sit on our own steps? Why do we have to always be in motion at all times? Why can’t I sit here and talk to my friend or my brother? You know, we can’t do that. We’re always constantly being a target.

ROBERT VALENTINE: Look, I’m passing it to y’all.


ROBERT VALENTINE: My time is over. You’ve got to make them better than you, and you’ve got to be better than me. You’ve got to stand up and represent.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell me your name?

ROBERT VALENTINE: Robert Valentine.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what you’ve been doing during the protests?

ROBERT VALENTINE: Intervention. I’m losing my voice, because I got tear-gassed and all. But I’m intervention. I don’t want none of my babies hurt or to ruin their future by getting a crime—you know, a misdemeanor on them. I want them to excel, to be better than me and the generation between me, to where they do something to be held accountable and assume the responsibility to do something with their life.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you feel about the indictments handed down on Friday?

ROBERT VALENTINE: Let freedom ring.

PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No racist police!

AMY GOODMAN: A kind of art protest festival has been dancing their way by. Please tell me your name.

DEVROCK: Peace, peace. My name is DevRock. I’m here with Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, representing BmoreUnited. We’re out in all facets in the community. We’re feeding people. We’re protesting. We’re celebrating. We are parading. We’re marching. In every different facet, we’re out here for Freddie Gray.

AMY GOODMAN: One last question: art, how it fits into the protest?

DEVROCK: Art fits in. It’s the way. It’s our voice. But I’ve got to hurry up and get in this car, because I’ve got to follow these people.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell me your name and your baby’s name?

RIKIESHA METZGER: My name is Rikiesha Metzger, and this is Zion Metzger. That’s actually my husband, Chris Metzger.

CHRIS METZGER: Chris Metzger.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about why you’re out here today, as—what is your son’s name?


AMY GOODMAN: As Zion tries to grab the microphone?

RIKIESHA METZGER: Well, it’s important for Zion to be out here, even at his young age, because he is biracial and because—

CHRIS METZGER: Come here, buddy.

RIKIESHA METZGER: Because he is biracial, again, just making sure that he understands that black lives matter, his life matters, even as a six-month-old baby. We want to spread the message that, again, we want justice for all people.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe his onesie to me?

RIKIESHA METZGER: So, this design actually was made by my husband. And you can actually talk about your—

CHRIS METZGER: So, we put this Black Power fist on the front of his shirt. So this was a design they had from earlier, and we threw it on his shirt this morning when we decided to come out.

AMY GOODMAN: And what’s your name?

CHRIS METZGER: Chris Metzger.

AMY GOODMAN: And the back says?

CHRIS METZGER: And then we put the back. "Black Lives Matter" on the back. So he’s supporting the cause through what he’s wearing, through being out here today.

AMY GOODMAN: And how old is he?

CHRIS METZGER: He’s just turning six months.

MARTINA LYNCH: I guess it’s time to tell it. My generation is headed to being heartless and selfish, and tweeting opinions and [inaudible] of living in Internet, as big as that’s trending [inaudible] are going because we get into that. You can kill through a message so I would think twice before sending that.

GRIM JACKSON: My name is Air Jordan, and I’m the soul of a dead black boy. It’s tradition that African Americans hang the souls of dead black children on wires. This is done so you’ll remember that strange fruit still grows in our community. I’ve witnessed children soar high enough to and-one angels. I’ve also witnessed children catch bullet passes, and in one shot their bodies drop back like fadeaways, not just because of the color of their skin, but because of the color of their soul. And when they see a child moving that much closer to God and touch that kind of freedom in a single bound, the only place they’d rather see the body is on the court, in the court.

MARTINA LYNCH: My name is Martina Lynch. I’m 20 years old. I live here in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore is a very creative place. A lot of people don’t know there’s a lot of talented people here in Baltimore. And there are a lot of different groups, like the group that I’m a part of, Dew More Baltimore. And we use art to advocate for justice. And we use it through poetry, hip-hop, maybe even painting or dance. And everybody can relate to music, or everybody can relate to lyricism, so we use that, because we know that people can connect to it. And we use that to express how we feel and to wake up people who are like not conscious of what’s going on in their communities or what’s going on in the world.

TONY ROME: First off, my name is Tony Rome. I have a picture in my backpack. Every last one of these people on this picture has their life to law enforcement. The youngest person on here is seven years old.

AMY GOODMAN: Aiyana Stanley-Jones, murdered by Detroit police, it says here, 5-16-10.

TONY ROME: Right, right. And the oldest person is a 92-year-old lady who last their lives to an Atlanta police officer.



AMY GOODMAN: November 21st.


AMY GOODMAN: Kathryn Johnston, 92.


AMY GOODMAN: It says murdered by Atlanta police.


AMY GOODMAN: It starts with Kimani Gray, unarmed, 16.


AMY GOODMAN: Murdered by NYPD March 12, 2013. Ousmane Zongo, Ramarley Graham, James Brissette, Malcolm Ferguson. It goes to John Crawford in Beavercreek, Ohio, to Sean Bell in New York City.

PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!

MONIQUE DOVE: I’m Monique Dove. I’m out here today because I run a youth mentorship program. Realistically, I know a little bit about the law, and I know, like, until you get a conviction, it’s not—it doesn’t stick. So, once I see a conviction, then I’ll basically kind of say, "OK, it’s that 1 percent our of 99."

AMY GOODMAN: What does Baltimore need? What do your kids need?

MONIQUE DOVE: Baltimore needs education, suitable education that could connect them to better high schools and colleges, not when they get to school they’re basically in remedial courses because the school system has already disenfranchised them. They need better opportunities to be able to sustain their families and their future.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the streets of Baltimore on the day the curfew was lifted. That’s Sunday. Six officers have been charged for the death of Freddie Gray. To see the performances of the spoken word pieces we played excerpts of, you can go to, as well as Marilyn Mosby’s full statement, Baltimore state’s attorney. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, we move from issues of police violence in the United States to Mexico, an explosive Intercept investigation. Stay with us.

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