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The New York Times quotes Rashawn Ray on this week's unrest in Baltimore

The real root cause of the riots: Hopelessness

On Tuesday in Baltimore, peaceful protests against police brutality erupted into riots following the funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died following unexplained injuries suffered while in police custody. Tuesday’s events are a result of Baltimore residents’ long struggle with poverty, homelessness, failing schools, residential segregation, and a police department under federal investigation. Zero-tolerance policies instituted by the former governor deepened long-held distrust between poor residents and police, who were unable to justify 35 percent of their arrests according to an independent audit conducted in 2012.

MPRC faculty associate Rashawn Ray attributes growing desperation and anger among the city’s youth to a failing educational system that offers few real opportunities to young people from poor neighborhoods. "They are reacting to something very specific: a feeling of hopelessness," Ray said. "People who aren't from these neighborhoods see one incident: Freddie Gray. But here, Freddie Gray triggers collective memory and experiences that they've had over time, like their lives don't matter. People without jobs, trying to feed their families in neighborhoods without grocery stores. Sitting around not talking about, 'What did you do at school today?' but 'Did you get stopped by the police on your way home?' It's been brewing for decades."

Read the story in the New York Times

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