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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Illinois Activists Stand in Solidarity with Baltimore

PHOTO: Illinois activists and others around the nation are seeking answers in the death of Freddie Gray. The American Friends Service Committee has been on the ground in Baltimore and is calling for police to scale back their presence in promote safety. Photo credit: Kaitlyn Veto/flickr.com
PHOTO: Illinois activists and others around the nation are seeking answers in the death of Freddie Gray. The American Friends Service Committee has been on the ground in Baltimore and is calling for police to scale back their presence in promote safety. Photo credit: Kaitlyn Veto/flickr.com
April 30, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Tensions still are running high in Baltimore because of the Freddie Gray death, and activists in Illinois and around the nation are seeking answers.

Dominique Stevenson, director of the American Friends Service Committee's Friend of a Friend program, has been in the area since last week, and offers perspective on what happened Monday that led to clashes between police and young people.

She says the backstory is that fears were running high after students heard rumors at school that white supremacists were going to attack – and then they saw police in riot gear.

"Young folks were put in a very bad position, being locked down for a couple of hours, and then sent out to catch buses – and then being told, 'You can't get on the buses and subway,' because transportation had been shut down," she explains.

Stevenson stresses the scene is feeling calmer now, despite some of the images in the media, and she is calling for police to scale back.

Stevenson states more police presence in a community that has been the target of aggressive policing for years doesn't create a sense of safety.

Hundreds gathered in Chicago Tuesday night in support for Freddie Gray and to stand in solidarity with activists in Baltimore.

Stevenson says the fears in the community have to be acknowledged, along with an understanding of the extreme poverty and feeling of hopelessness. At the same time, she adds there are religious leaders and others who can assume a marshal-type role and restore order.

"I think that there are people in the community that can quell the tensions, and work it out without police," she says.

The American Friends Service Committee is working on long-term programs for the region to get resources to children and families in need.



Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL