“The death of Freddie Gray was a national tragedy deserving of a national conversation. A year after the death of Freddie Gray, the glare of television cameras covering the ensuing unrest has faded in Baltimore but the hurt and the continuing effort to heal remains. In the 12 months since Freddie Gray’s death, Americans have had long overdue conversations about racially biased policing, poverty in cities across America, the lack of access to quality education, and the scarcity of safe and affordable housing. These conversations have directly translated into meaningful actions by Baltimore City residents, community leaders, and lawmakers at every level. Faith groups, community organizations, the business community, and many other groups who love and understand the limitless potential of our city have stood up and articulated their visions of how to build a stronger Baltimore. I’ve heard their messages in a West Baltimore pharmacy, in the shadow of a badly damaged senior center that is being rebuilt, and at roundtables with returning citizens looking for a second chance to strengthen their families and communities.
“I’ve taken these messages to President Obama and members of his cabinet. I’ve addressed my fellow U.S. Senators on the floor and in private conversations about the need to focus on Baltimore and cities like it across America. In the shadow of the Capitol Dome, I promised a crowd that this Baltimore-born Senator would not forget Freddie Gray or any of the all too frequent tragedies that occur in our criminal justice system.
“In the last year groups from across the country have come out in support of pieces of legislation I introduced to end racial profiling, better train law enforcement to work better with the communities they protect, change our arcane sentencing guidelines regarding low-level nonviolent drug possession, ban the box on job applications and expand voting rights. It gives me hope that there is not only support for many of these bills from groups seeking to strengthen Baltimore but also among Senate Democrats and Republicans alike.
“In the year since the death of Freddie Gray, we’ve made progress in building a more just America — starting in Baltimore. We still have much work to do. I am confident that we will continue to make progress, because as the world learned in the past year, Baltimore is a special city capable of uniting to accomplish anything.”