Four Poems About Police Brutality By Baltimore Students

Before and after Freddie Gray, in their own words.

When 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in police custody last month, the world took notice. Intense protests drew in media and organizers, and put pressure on Baltimore prosecutors, who eventually charged six officers with Gray's death. But, as it often does, the coverage filtered the realities of living in Baltimore through journalists' eyes, obscuring the extent to which racism and police brutality are commonplace.

During a "Black Words Matter" write-in event series, a group of young Baltimoreans gathered to write about their experiences in the aftermath of the protests. The write-in was organized by Writers In Baltimore Schools, a nonprofit organization that encourages students in their literary pursuits. Their work echoed the words of photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier, who recently spoke with The FADER about using art for a greater cause: "Make yourself available and supply your services and your skills and your techniques to someone else, so you can use your talents as a platform for their voice and representation."

Read a stunning excerpt from a poem by 10th grader Afiya Ervin below, and read three other poems via Real Pants.

Every hashtag pounded
too loud. Every journalist
talked too much. They shut
us up and kept us
from remembering that
if they fixed the streets children
wouldn't have rocks
to throw in the first place.

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Four Poems About Police Brutality By Baltimore Students