Baltimore Police Ripped in DOJ Report for Rights Violations

Hemera/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Baltimore police violated the constitutional rights of residents on a routine basis, conducting unlawful stops and using excessive force, according to a Justice Department report obtained by ABC News.

The police conduct primarily impacted the city’s African-American residents living in poor neighborhoods, who were stopped, arrested and victimized by excessive force more often than their white neighbors, the Justice Department concluded in the report, expected to be released Wednesday morning.

The DOJ investigation of the Baltimore Police Department was triggered by the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who allegedly died from injuries sustained while being transported in police custody. The investigation found that "African Americans accounted for 86 percent of all criminal offenses charged by BPD officers despite making up only 63 percent of Baltimore residents."

The investigation also found "overly aggressive tactics that unnecessarily escalate encounters," and widespread and systematic problems in Baltimore policing, including: "making unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests"; "using enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjust searches and arrests of African Americans" and "retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally protected expression."

According to the report, the unlawful practices were "driven by systemic deficiencies in [the police department's] policies, training, supervision and accountability structures that fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police effectively and within the bounds of federal law."

While recognizing the challenges and risks faced by individual officers every day on the street, the report ripped into BPD management, saying it failed to give officers the equipment and training needed to police safely and effectively.

"The agency fails to provide officers with sufficient policy guidelines and training, fails to collect and analyze data regarding officers activities; and fails to hold officers accountable for misconduct," the report said.

For example, the report, which looked at 2010-2015, found that "Of the 2,818 force incidents that BPD recorded in the nearly six year period we reviewed, BPD investigated only ten incidents....BPD only found only one use of force to be excessive."

Justice Department investigators said that they received cooperation from the Baltimore Police Department, and there was a "widespread agreement that BPD needs reform."

Investigators interviewed a wide spectrum of Baltimore residents and community leaders, and noted that that there is a consensus that there are "two Baltimore's" -- one largely affluent and white, and one primarily black and poor.

The white residents reported that police were responsive to their needs, while the in the black community, the police service was poor, and officers were viewed with deep mistrust, according to the document.

Department of Justice and Baltimore officials are expected to announce a new, court-enforceable agreement Wednesday that will outline reforms and actions the BPD must take to comply with the law, and begin to regain the trust of the community.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Celebrities, politicians post tributes to comedian, activist Dick Gregory

Celebrities, politicians post tributes to comedian, activist Dick GregoryBrent N. Clarke/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The death of comedian and activist Dick Gregory at age 84 on Saturday prompted a flood of tributes on Twitter from celebrities, activists and others.

Jane Sanders recalled how her husband -- Bernie Sanders, Democratic senator from Vermont and former presidential candidate -- once spent a night in jail with Gregory after protesting segregation in Chicago.

RIP Dick Gregory, a good & brave man. He & @SenSanders spent the night in jail together for protesting Chicago segregated schools in the 60s

— Jane O'Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) August 20, 2017

Democratic National Committee vice chairman Keith Ellison posted a photo of himself with Gregory. "Thank you for giving yourself to all of us," he wrote.

Dick Gregory, may God Bless you and Keep you. Thank you for giving yourself to all of us.

— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) August 20, 2017

Activist and writer Shaun King posted pictures of Gregory as a young man. "Rest in power, good sir," King wrote.

Because many of you probably only knew Dick Gregory as an older man, I wanted to show you these young images.

Rest in power good sir.

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017

Singer John Legend called Gregory a "groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice."

Dick Gregory lived an amazing, revolutionary life. A groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice. RIP

— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 20, 2017

Some people posted excerpts from Gregory's memoir, "Callous on My Soul," such as when he wrote about a waitress in the South telling him that they "don't serve colored people."

White lady: We don't serve colored people here.

Dick Gregory: I don't eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.

RIP Mr. Gregory😰

— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 20, 2017

Here is a sample of some other tweets paying tribute to Gregory and lamenting his passing.

Comedian Dick Gregory always told it like it is. Our laughter was fuel to fight for justice in an unjust world. RIP 1932-2017

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 20, 2017

Marching w/ King. Sitting w/ Ali. Paving the way for our comedic greats. All while fighting for us.

Rest well Dick Gregory. #blkcreatives

— #blkcreatives netwrk (@blkcreatives) August 20, 2017

He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight.He taught us how to live.Dick Gregory was committed to justice.I miss him already. #RIP

— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) August 20, 2017

Rest In Peace to civil rights icon Dick Gregory. An inspiration. A hero. 🙏

— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 20, 2017

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