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    An officer stands near a blaze, Monday, April 27, 2015, after rioters plunged part of Baltimore into chaos, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officers.

    Baltimore Government Should Take Responsibility for Riots - Resident

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    Freddie Gray's Death Triggers Mass Protests in Baltimore (63)
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    Baltimore legislators and government officials need to be held accountable for riots, according to local resident Antonio Willingham.

     

    Freddie Gray Protest
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    BALTIMORE (Sputnik) — Baltimore government officials need to be held accountable for riots that erupted after the funeral of Freddie Gray, an African American who died after held in police custody in mid-April, local resident Antonio Willingham told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    “Baltimore legislators and government officials…who are abusing their privilege as officials and law enforcement, need to be held accountable for what is going on,” Willingham said.

    People in Baltimore are frustrated and upset over Gray’s death and are tired of hearing the same thing from officials who say “let us investigate.”

    “He [Gray] did not deserve to die the way he did,” Willingham asserted.

    Willingham said the rioters also need to be held accountable for what is going on, along with parents who need to take a more active role in molding their children and other community leaders who only speak up when tragedies occur.

    “I am part of a mentor program. We advocate peace, respect and accountability. But when you are not showing that to our youth out here, and you do not offer them anything, what do you expect?” Willingham argued.

    Community leaders need to start reaching out to these young men and women because no one understands them, Willingham went on.

    “They are left on this island by themselves. They think this is the right way to handle this. And it is not,” he said.

    The issues run deeper than police violence in Baltimore, because the government has been closing schools and recreation centers while youth have been alienated by law enforcement officers. Police officers used to have closer ties with the young men and women in Baltimore’s neighborhoods, Willingham explained.

    “We had relationships with the police officers. They knew our parents. They knew our grades in school. When we got in trouble they would talk to us,” he reflected.

    Willingham recommended replacing the liquor stores on every corner with community centers and asked the police to work closer with people like him to counteract what is happening on the streets of Baltimore.

    “We have one of the highest murder rates in the country. I do not like the black-on-black crime. They act like it is acceptable to have these guns in our neighborhoods and to target each other and kill each other,” Willingham said.

    On April 19, Gray, 25, died after sustaining spinal cord injuries while being carried in a police van.

    On Monday evening, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced a state of emergency and a week-long curfew in the city from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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    Freddie Gray's Death Triggers Mass Protests in Baltimore (63)

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