By Askia Muhammad, Nisa Islam Muhammad, Charles Robinson and Shawn Massie
From Staten Island, to Ferguson, to Cleveland, to North Charleston, S.C., now to the city by the Bay, death after death of unarmed Black men by police has stunned the country—but one death is so gruesome and seemingly unjustified, it has left the nation breathless.
Cries for justice for West Baltimore’s Freddie Gray grew louder each day for a week with larger and larger demonstrations and protests that overlapped with a 250-mile, nine-day “March 2 Justice” from Staten Island, N.Y. to the U.S. Capitol grounds. Organized by the Justice League NYC, the marchers arrived in the nation’s capital, April 21, after doubling back to nearby Baltimore, and ending with a march back to Washington on the west lawn of the Capitol for a rally.
The detour for the March 2 Justice came as news and eyewitness accounts of Mr. Gray’s arrest and takedown poured out after his death April 19, one week after his arrest. Mr. Gray’s voice box was crushed and his spine was “80 percent severed at his neck.” Video shot by a bystander shows him screaming in apparent agony as police drag him to a van.
“His leg looks broke! Look at his f—ing leg! Look at his f—ing leg! That boy’s leg looks broke! His leg’s broken! Y’all dragging him like that!” one bystander said in the video.
Just one day after Mr. Gray’s death, six police officers were immediately suspended with pay. Police said an autopsy confirmed Mr. Gray died of spinal cord injuries. He may have been injured while inside a police van, but that cause is disputed by witnesses.