PLBC urges the public to look beneath the surface of the Baltimore riots

HARRISBURG, April 29 – – As Baltimore begins the process of recovering from this week's destruction, state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and its membership expressed dismay on behalf of the city, its residents, and the family and friends of the late Freddie Gray.

On Monday afternoon, following Gray's funeral, violence spread throughout the city, an unfortunate occurrence that overshadowed the message that peaceful protesters set out to convey to Baltimore and the entire nation: that black lives matter and are equally deserving of dignity and respect.

"It really gives you a greater sense of perspective to see this happen so close to Pennsylvania," Brown said. "It is critically important that we look beneath the surface to determine what systemic issues are fueling such widespread outrage. The fact that a young man’s spine was severed while in police custody is on its face a matter of grave concern. However, what is clear is that it was not this incident alone that sparked Monday afternoon’s events; rather, it is the cumulative effect of the many injustices that have occurred across the nation involving law enforcement. 

"The PLBC is dedicated to finding real solutions to the issues that plague our cities and minority populations. It is imperative that we build a bridge between the public and law enforcement to create a level of trust that has been lacking in Baltimore and other areas marked by unrest. We hope that by being proactive we can prevent similar incidents from cropping up in Pennsylvania.

"To help build that bridge, the PLBC has hosted ‘Know Your Rights’ seminars in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and is looking to schedule similar events in Pittsburgh and other locations. We also convened meetings in Harrisburg with the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association in January, as well as with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association in March.

"As members of the PLBC, we strongly encourage people to abstain from engaging in violence and destruction, and instead urge the public to call upon that same fervor and outrage when it is time to go to the polls to vote for the public officials at the helm of their communities."