Rep. Elijah Cummings: Police-Community Relations Is The 'Civil Rights Cause Of This Generation'

04/26/2015 03:09 pm ET | Updated Apr 26, 2015

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said on Sunday that the relationship between law enforcement and ordinary citizens is "the civil rights cause of this generation" -- remarks that came just hours after protesters took to the streets of Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who recently died after sustaining injuries in police custody.

"This whole police community relations situation, Bob, is the civil rights cause of this generation, no doubt about it," Cummings told CBS' Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation."

Baltimore police said on Sunday that they had arrested about 34 people and that six police officers were injured during the protests.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, a week after he was arrested by police. Authorities are still piecing together the circumstances of Gray's arrest, but thus far, no evidence has emerged that he was doing anything illegal at the time.

Baltimore officials are investigating how Gray sustained fatal injuries, including a severed spinal cord, while he was in police custody. The Department of Justice is also investigating whether there is enough evidence to bring a prosecutable civil rights charge against the Baltimore police.

Cummings said Sunday that the protests, some of which took place in his own neighborhood, had been largely peaceful. He said much of the violence had been instigated by a "few people, mainly from out of town." On Saturday evening, the Baltimore Police Department said something similar, tweeting that "isolated pockets of people from out of town" were "causing disturbances."

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