In the Baltimore neighborhood that became a nationwide symbol of racial inequality after protests turned to riot over Freddie Gray’s death, small signs of community resurgence have started to emerge.
Across the street from the spot Gray was arrested, a once-vacant row house has been painted with a mural of Harriet Tubman, garden beds have been raised out back, and desks and books populate the inside, in a new community center dubbed the Tubman House.
“I’m a resident of Gilmor and we need this,” said Janet Cottrell, describing the house as a “safe zone” in a neighborhood where homicides have only increased since Gray’s death.
But the city has nothing to do with the development. In fact, residents of the neighborhood have developed the center by illegally occupying the city-owned property slated for demolition – a detail that was not lost on the one mayoral candidate who visited the site for its opening ceremony.