With the indictment of six police officers in Baltimore for the killing of Freddie Gray, the protests in the city have begun to subside. But for 32BJ members who live and work in Baltimore, the causes of the unrest still need to be addressed.
“The police have been killing our black men for so long and getting away with it. It is time to stop,” said commercial office cleaner Francis Smith. “There is so much poverty in Baltimore, I think that is why police think that they can do what they want to do. But we are still human too.”
“Police violence does exist. In some areas of the hood, police are more aggressive than more affluent ones,” says Melba Knight, a security officer at Harbor East in Baltimore. Security officers there have been organizing for a better life for 2 years. “Poverty is very prevalent in Baltimore. It also occurs in two-income homes. I am disappointed that the state of Maryland and some local businesses refuse to invest in certain communities.”
Aranjalita Mills, a commercial office cleaner in downtown Baltimore, agrees. “The poverty level here in Baltimore has not changed. We feel what little that we have been given is not enough. We do not have opportunity so we have to learn to survive with what we are given.” Mills says that a lack of good jobs is what keeps Baltimore families from living in better neighborhoods and living stable lives, and that investors need to give to poor communities and help to invest in building better for the communities that are around them.