By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
In his “Race and Politics” column, Sean Yoes, has chronicled many of the difficult challenges and tragedies over the last three years in Baltimore since the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent uprising in April 2015. He has compiled more than 50 of those commentaries in his new book, Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.
It is the first book for Yoes, an award winning journalist and the AFRO’s current Baltimore editor, whose reporting has helped define many of the conflicts that have engulfed Baltimore over the past three decades.
“Baltimore After Freddie Gray” (BAFG), utilizes Yoes’ singular voice that has informed his writings on police corruption, government accountability, and the history of racism in the city and beyond.
“I wrote ‘Baltimore After Freddie Gray’ to provide an authentic chronicle of the last three years, which have been very difficult in our city since Gray’s murder while in police custody and the subsequent uprising,” Yoes told the AFRO.
The columns include timely reporting and analysis of the consequences of the death of Gray, who died April 19, 2015 and the historical roots of troubled policing that precipitated the subsequent uprising.
“I wanted to give voice to some of the victims of these last three years; people like Charmaine Wilson, the mother of eight murdered in front of her children; Korryn Gaines, killed by Baltimore County Police while she held her son in her arms; people like Ivan Potts, wrongly incarcerated by the Gun Trace Task Force,” Yoes said of the corrupt Baltimore Police Department specialized unit whose members have recently been convicted of robbing residents, dealing drugs, and stealing overtime pay
But it also depicts the rise of community lead solutions to violence like the grassroots movement Cease Fire and the emergence of activist organizations such as The Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle which has lead the ongoing fight for law enforcement reform.
“I also wanted to tell the stories of the heroic, brilliant people who work hard every day to keep this city from being torn asunder and make it a better place for everybody,“ Yoes said.
For nearly 30 years, Yoes has been covering Baltimore city for the AFRO newspaper in a variety of capacities. He launched his column, Race and Politics, in 2015. He also served three years as the host and executive producer of the weekday, drive time radio version of the AFRO “First Edition” (Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2017) on WEAA, 88.9.
For Yoes, the process of assembling the three years of commentaries provided new insights into the recent events which have transformed the city; a perspective he hopes will give readers a greater understanding of the debates over policing, public safety and politics which have roiled the community.
BAFG marks another venture for Yoes who has expanded his repertoire of pursuits to include a podcast for WYPR called “Truth and Reconciliation” (full disclosure the writer co-produces the show with Yoes). He also is in the planning stages of a documentary “A Baltimore Uproar! Romare Bearden and the Black Vanguard,” on legendary artist and AFRO cartoonist Romare Bearden.