Baltimore’s top cop Darryl De Sousa apologized for “200 years” of police brutality in front of a packed rap concert earlier this week.
It’s doubtful that hip-hop fans expected to hear an apology on behalf of the police when they crammed into the Baltimore Soundstage to hear Erik B. & Rakim. However, that’s precisely what they got from the city’s police commissioner.
“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 on Instagram. “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.”
“I want to take the time to apologize for what policing did and I promise you we’re going to make a change in the future,” he added.
According to the Baltimore Sun, “Some people applauded. But as De Sousa spoke, a person can be heard on one of the videos yelling profanities. In another, video someone repeatedly shouts ‘get the police off the stage.'”
It didn’t take long for Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police to respond to De Sousa remarks.
Gene Ryan, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 wrote in a statement: “Law enforcement was created to protect and serve the citizenry despite race and that is what we strive to do, daily. Are we perfect? No, of course not, but as a profession we work very hard to care for all of our citizens.”
Baltimore’s police department has faced increased scrutiny since the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody. De Sousa was named police commissioner in January, becoming the third officeholder in five years. His comments also follow the unrest spurred by the arrest of two black men in a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn