NASW responses to death of Freddie Gray, police reforms

People protesting the death of Freddie Gray march in front of a police line. Photo courtesy of International Business Times.

A man protesting the death of Freddie Gray marches in front of a police line in Baltimore . Photo courtesy of International Business Times.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) chapters and officials are reacting to the death of Freddie Gray while in custody of Baltimore City police, the resulting civil unrest, and the charges filed against six police officers in connection with Gray’s death.

Here are NASW responses:

We are horrified and deeply saddened by the circumstances which led to his death.  We are encouraged that the Baltimore City States Attorney has brought indictments against the officers who were involved with his arrest and we look forward to justice being done through the legal process. - NASW Maryland Chapter

Read the full NASW Maryland Chapter Statement on Freddie Gray’s Death

We believe it was important that charges were brought against the police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, especially at a time when it has been nearly impossible to prosecute the police for violent actions leading to the death of members of the Black community. - NASW New York City Chapter

Read the full  NASW New York City Chapter Baltimore Uprising Statement.

While many of us in the Black community are examining how conditions in our communities and families can be improved, I would suggest that police officers — those individuals who are charged with protecting citizens, rather than harming them — should do the same. As a country, we should ask how those individuals in law enforcement have been ‘raised’ and acculturated, and consider what legacy of attitudes toward others get passed on from one generation to the next. A shield is not a permission slip for the abuse of people and the misuse of power. – Past NASW President Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW

Read Bailey’s full column on Huffington Post

NASW has proposed ways to end racial profiling by police and mitigate police violence. The association joined other organizations to send a letter to President Obama pressing for community policing reforms. NASW also supports use of body cameras on police to protect police from citizen claims of excessive police force and reduce use of police force and racial profiling. Read an Orlando Sentinel column by NASW Social Justice and Human Rights Manager Mel Wilson to learn more.

One comment

  1. Once again we see that Black Lives Don’t Matter as the system of structural racism maintains its power and protects unaccountable policing. The “rough ride” is only one strategy that police use to kill unarmed civilians of color.

    Freddie Gray joins a growing list of those killed by “Rough Ride” I respectfully name them here:

    Cruel, Unusual, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment and Arbitrary Punishment of Unarmed People of African Descent

    Rough Rides in Police Vehicle/ Torture, Arbitrary Punishments, Killings
    Gino Thompson- 40 years old, 4/16/1994, Philadelphia, PA, survived with severe spinal injury
    Calvin Sanders-21 years old 1997, Philadelphia, PA pistol whipped by police, survived rough ride with paralysis, rendered quadriplegic
    Dondi Johnson Sr.- December, 2005 police beat, kicked, and subjected him to rough ride without seat belt, spine dislocated and fractured, died two weeks later
    *James McKenna (White), 2011, Philadelphia, PA., broken neck, survived
    Freddie Gray, 25 years old, 5/1/2015, Baltimore, MD…severe spinal cord injuries, coma, Death

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