In the wake of Freddie Gray’s April 19, 2015 death in the custody of Baltimore police, citizens peacefully protested for days, challenging the force’s policies for policing in the city’s black neighborhoods. The nation finally turned a collective eye to the city’s streets on April 27, when a standoff kicked off between high school students and BPD, resulting in a tumultuous night in the city and a famously burned-out CVS.
That standoff involved students throwing bricks at police, but only after witnesses say the officers antagonized the children, cutting off transportation, stranding them inside a blockade at Mondawmin Mall and advancing on them in full riot gear.
Now, a group is selling a controversial t-shirt inspired by the encounter. Emblazoned with a brick, the shirts say, “The Baltimore Riot 2015, The Battle of Mondawmin.” Residents are not happy about it.
“I just think it’s unfortunate that they would try to benefit from such a tragedy. I live right here. To me and people who live in this neighborhood, it was very traumatic to us, and it was something that we will probably remember forever,” Baltimore resident Nzinga Hutchinson told local television station WBAL. “For them to try to benefit and make money, I understand that they are in need, but that was just a tragic event.”
The shirts are being sold via a website called Baltimore6.com, which claims that donations will go to Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 3, in care of the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death. From the website:
On May 1, 2015 six Baltimore Police Officers were indicted and suspended without pay in the wake of the riots and demands that they be charged criminally. They were, some with murder.
Suspended without pay, they, and their families, lost their dignity and their incomes. They, and their families, suffer while some rejoice in their misfortune. …
The Baltimore Six, each of them, took an oath to protect and to serve, precisely their goal during their interaction with Freddie Gray. For that, they and their innocent families, who sacrificed so much because they were police, now live a nightmare. They supported our community, doing a job few have the courage or ability to do. Now they need our support.
At press time, the shirts were on their second printing and 220 had been sold, at $25 each. But a spokesperson for the FOP told WBAL the organization is not responsible for the shirt: “The FOP has no direct involvement with the fundraiser. The FOP has nothing to do with the design or production of the T-shirt and to date has not received any money from it.”