New U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday met with Baltimore officials and the family of a 25-year-old black man killed by police last month and vowed to help the city pursue police reform.
The meeting in Baltimore came the week after the city’s top prosecutor brought criminal charges against the six officers involved in the April 12 arrest of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal injury that led to his death a week later.
Gray’s death was the latest in a series of police killings of unarmed black men across the United States, and provoked weeks of largely peaceful protests punctuated by a day of arson and looting on April 27.
“This is a flashpoint situation,” Lynch told a group of officials after a private meeting with the Gray family. “We lost a young man’s life and it begins to represent so many things.”
The Justice Department, she said, will work with the city as it seeks to improve its police department. Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said last week there had been no legal basis for Gray’s arrest, which came after he fled from a police officer after making eye contact.
Rev. Donte Hickman, whose church lost a senior center under construction when it was set ablaze during last week’s riot, opened the meeting between Lynch and local leaders, which included Congressman Elijah Cummings, who had been a constant presence on the streets during last week’s emotionally charged protests in Baltimore.
Lynch was accompanied by Vanita Gupta, head of Justice’s civil rights division, and Ronald Davis, director of its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS.
A night curfew in Baltimore was lifted on Sunday. The city’s mayor said the Maryland National Guard would begin withdrawing from the streets over the next week.