Residents react to dropped charges in Freddie Gray case

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BALTIMORE (WUSA9) — There was a fighting spirit in Sandtown-Winchester, Freddie Gray’s old neighborhood, as residents reacted to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s impassioned statement where she alleged police bias and defended her prosecutors.

“She was under a gag order and she was getting beaten up by the media so she went all out because this was her chance to defend herself.  Understand when you’re in a fight, things like that are going to happen,” Ralph Johnson said.

Folks are still fighting, though they are bruised by the memory of Gray that surrounds them in murals and makeshift memorials.  They are hurt, but still swinging.

“We use that as a lynchpin in our community to grow,” said Abdul Salaam. “We don’t leave them behind but we grow on their shoulders.”

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These fighters are following the relentless punches of their State’s Attorney.

“She challenged the culture of police in our city and you have to pay a heavy price for that,” explained Ralph Johnson, who is writing a book on the Freddie Gray trials called, “America, We Have a Problem.”

Johnson said it wasn’t about guilt or innocence, rather due process and a chance at changing the system though all charges against the remaining officers were dropped.

“There were problems and this trial allowed a lot of problems to be addressed,” he explained.

“It sends a hell of a message,” said Jaselle Coates, who was sitting on her stoop nearby. “There is no justice.”

But two blocks down a group of youth advocates were fighting to change that message. Members of KEYS Development, which stands for Keep Encouraging Youth to Succeed, were hosting a block party and open house for the Gilmore Community Center.

The Center was closed and sat vacant for 15 years. The city invested $1 million in renovating the building and opened last month.

“We’re out here building character,” said Mujahid Muhamad.

“Hoping we can connect these youth and parents to jobs by bringing in professional counselors, dressed down so people can receive them and have fun; and based on that fun we can have real conversations that don’t happen with others.”