BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This week marks five years since the uprising in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s funeral.
The unrest forced Governor Larry Hogan to activate the National Guard for the first time since the 1960s. The city was also placed on a curfew.
On the five year anniversary, WJZ spoke with community leaders and residents in Penn North, the epicenter of the unrest. Despite the government-mandated consent decree and many changes in city leadership, every single person WJZ spoke with Tuesday said they believe nothing has changed in the five years since Gray’s death.
“Five years later after Freddie Gray? I feel as though nothing has changed,” Davon Fletcher said.
“I feel as though everything is still the same, ain’t nothing really change,” Chris Jones said.
“What everyone else watched on television we watched outside our door,” Ericka Alston Buck said. “We watched the National Guard standing with shields.”
Alston Buck operated the Kid Safe Zone in Sandtown-Winchester
“The mass chaos and confusions and fear, it was overwhelming,” she said. “It was overwhelming.”
“Every camera in the world was in Baltimore at that time,” said Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady.
Cannady brought different groups together during the uprising in an attempt to bring calm.
“I had just left the funeral, it was surreal for me. I finally see what I watch in the 50s and on TV coming to fruition in our community,” he recalled. “We had a wound that was open and we were putting stitches on it and now it has spread so far we need staples.”
“Of course none of that should have happened, the burning up stuff. Burning up your own neighborhood, that’s what you did,” one resident told WJZ.
“Here it is now five years later and it’s a pandemic they are still on the corner suffering from drug addiction and homelessness,” Cannady said. “You can’t fix this overnight. Why wasn’t nothing invested into this neighborhood right after?”
Cannady said he believes things have gotten worse.
“I thought that was going to be a moment turned into a movement, but it became a moment turned into silence,” he said.
“When there is an international camera shining, yeah there are elected officials and everyone walking through and making safety checks,” Alston Buck said.
During the uprising, Alston Buck ran the Kids Safe Zone. She said there were days the facility provided a safe space for a hundred kids. She said she had to close in 2018 because of a lack of sufficient funding.