By Wilson Dizard
Pigtown is a Baltimore neighborhood some two miles south of Sandtown, Freddie Gray’s neighborhood.
Gray’s death on April 19, a week after the 25-year-old black man was arrested and suffered injuries while in police custody, triggered mass protests against the treatment of Baltimore’s black communities by law enforcement. The protests escalated into violent unrest, and both local authorities and the Department of Justice are investigating the circumstances of Gray’s death.
In a city that is 63 percent black, Pigtown is a white enclave, created by migrants from West Virginia and western Maryland after World War II. What aligns it with Sandtown, where most residents are black, is poverty.
Pigtown’s white residents say that while skin color plays a role in who is targeted by police, they’ve come to believe police harass them as well because like Sandtown residents, they’re poor.
“We all get treated the same: badly,” said a 54-year-old woman who gave her name only as Sarah, as she sat on a stoop with her brother Roy. Both are white.
Michael Brown, 22, who grew up in Pigtown on the same street as Sarah and Roy, echoed his neighbor’s sentiment.
Because most Pigtown residents are poor, police assume they’re committing crimes, Brown said, treating black people as drug dealers and white people as drug buyers.
“Like you see how me and my daughter are sitting down on the front step? They’d pull up and act like this is not my house,” Brown said as he sat with his toddler on his stoop.