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‘Day of Reconciliation’ Planned to Mark Anniversary of Baltimore Unrest

Baltimore residents expressed frustration with police as the reason behind the violence. Photo courtesy of CBS

Baltimore residents expressed frustration with police as the reason behind the violence. Photo courtesy of CBS

Following the funeral for 25-year-old Freddie Gray, residents of Baltimore poured into the streets to protest his death. Gray died from injuries he sustained while in police custody. Those protests soon manifested into violence, rioting, looting and the burning of businesses all around the city. The unrest made national headlines.

One year later, the city of Baltimore is still trying to come together and rebuild. A number of events are planned Wednesday to recognize the anniversary of the protests, The Baltimore Sun reports.

According to the paper, students from Frederick Douglass High School will hold an open forum from 1:30 to 2:30 to discuss their hopes for the community and how they can move on from the violence that occurred last year.

“Our school isn’t just a place where we come to get an education, it’s our second home,” senior De’Asia Ellis, a student leader, said in a statement. “The events surrounding the death of Freddie Gray that resulted in the riots gave my home a bad name. But we are so much more than what we are perceived as.”

Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will also celebrate the restoration of a senior center that was burned down during the unrest. The Mary Harvin Transformation Center was still under construction when it was destroyed, but it has since been rebuilt for $16 million. According to The Baltimore Sun, the remodeled facility has 61 new, affordable apartments for senior citizens, a community center, and rooms for counseling and job training. The center is set to open in the spring. Officials will celebrate at the new facility around 2 p.m.

After being vilified for the police response to last year’s violence, Rawlings-Blake scheduled a Day of Reconciliation for the City of Baltimore. Her critics expressed their dissatisfaction via Twitter with the hashtag #ReconcileThis, to which she responded,”We did not over militarize our response to unrest last year/not one rioter or police officer was killed.”

The event will take place at 4 p.m. at Liberty Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road near Mondawmin Mall, where the protests started, The Baltimore Sun reports. The Day of Reconciliation will also feature an announcement about summer jobs for Baltimore youth.

The city of Baltimore is also looking to rebuild its neighborhoods. On Monday, over two dozen members of non-profits and activist groups rallied at City Hall to affirm their efforts to better Baltimore’s most troubled neighborhoods, per The Baltimore Sun.

Derrick Chase, founder of the Coalition for Transformation and Betterment of Baltimore, announced a four-year plan to split the city into grids. Neighborhoods would be separated and prioritized according to its needs, he explained. Each neighborhood would also be assigned a block captain. Participating non-profit groups would help gather resources for the neighborhoods.

“There are a lot of things going on,” Chase said. “We’re systematically trying to unify the efforts.”

Per The Baltimore Sun, the non-profits and activist groups will begin their work in the neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester, where Gray lived. Chase’s announcement comes just one day prior to Tuesday’s primary election.

“Baltimore, the world is watching. So we have to take the initiative to make the change we want, and it starts by voting,” Kenneth Frasier, a member of Operation Hunger USA, told The Baltimore Sun. “Voter registration has risen in Baltimore since Gray’s death, from 362,000 voters this time last year to about 374,000 today.”

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