"When you quiet someone for so long, people just start to shout," Anthony Cooper, 19, told MTV News in an interview earlier this week. "You gotta release something, somehow."
Those words do a lot to explain the frustration the black communities of Baltimore have been feeling for decades, and how that frustration came to a head through the protests that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray on April 27. The police presence in these neighborhoods is just constantly, and often violently, felt.
Why Freddie Ran
"You see police, you try to walk away and get away from them,” Dayrick Lucas, 20, told MTV News. “Because you never know what’s on their mind. They can just get out of the car and do what they want to do."
Instead of seeing police officers as civil servants meant to protect them, many people in these communities say they are just scared. To them, the police presence is like a gang running their town — "the biggest gang out there," said Lucas.
Certain areas of Baltimore also see a higher rate of poverty, incarceration and lack of opportunity, and the fear and distrust of authority figures like police officers is experienced as a daily, on-going emotion for many residents.
“We’re just tired," Lucas said. "We’re scared."
To understand the root of the fear, one only needs to look a the numbers, and young black men are killed by police at a disproportionately higher rate than any other demographic.
To fix this problem that spans "years and years," Jessica Nelson said there needs to be an overhaul in the governments in these areas. They need "fresh eyes," she said, "to get things in order" and, hopefully, begin to mend the broken relationship between law enforcement and the community.
For that cause, Cooper said he still has hope.
"The relationship between the police and people in the city needs to get better," Cooper said. "It has to get better."