Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa told concertgoers this week that he wanted to personally apologize for a long train of abuse by police dating back “200 years.”
Music lovers arrived at Baltimore Soundstage on Wednesday night to hear the tunes of hip-hop group Eric B. & Rakim, but soon found themselves listening to an apology for corrupt policing.
“I want to take about 20 seconds to apologize for all the things that the police have done dating back 200 years,” Commissioner De Sousa said in a video posted online by Baltimore Fishbowl. “Two-hundred years ago, all the way to civil rights. All the way to the ‘80s where crack was prevalent in the cities and it affected disproportionately African-American men. All the way to the ‘90s. All the way to the 2000s when we had zero tolerance.”
The city’s police department has faced increased scrutiny since the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody after an arrest.
Gray was not restrained by a seat belt while inside a police van and died of a neck injury sustained in transit. His death sparked days of protests and rioting in the city.
Commissioner De Sousa, flanked by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, received a round of boos and a smattering of applause after his address Wednesday.
Lt. Gene Ryan, Baltimore Police Union president, expressed displeasure with the commissioner’s speech.
“I’m not sure that a blanket apology covering 200 years is appropriate,” Lt. Ryan responded in a statement Thursday night, a local CBS affiliate reported. “Law enforcement was created to protect and serve the citizenry despite race and that is what we strive to do, daily.”