Arrest Data That May Help Explain The Baltimore Riots

05/01/2015 11:25 am ET | Updated May 01, 2015

Many of the Baltimore residents protesting the April 19 death of Freddie Gray in police custody have said they or someone they know has been treated unfairly by police. Data from a major lawsuit against the city shows that police have indeed had a habit of improper arrests in the recent past.

In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action complaint alleging a pattern of false arrests. Of more than 76,000 people arrested the previous year, prosecutors declined to charge 25,000 with any crime -- meaning roughly 30 percent of the arrests were basically bogus. In a 2010 settlement the city agreed to reform its police practices, though last year the Baltimore Sun reported on a persisting pattern of police brutality.

The website Vocativ created a visualization of the number of false arrests:


In an interview with The Marshall Project this week, David Simon, creator of "The Wire" and a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, blamed the War on Drugs for the rise of bad policing generally, and former Mayor Martin O'Malley specifically for pushing the police to try to reduce crime rates through mass arrests. O'Malley went on to the governor's office and is now an unofficial presidential candidate.

"[T]he department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month," Simon said

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