Some residents attribute the high murder rate to relaxed police patrols in the city following high-profile cases of police brutality. Officers have backed off in neighborhoods, like the one where Freddie Gray was arrested.

The Rev. Kinji Scott, a pastor in Baltimore who’s held positions in local city government, says the opposite needs to happen.

African American Communities, African American Crime, Criminal Justice Reform, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

“We wanted the police there,” Scott says. “We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.”

He’s among activists who are calling for police reform to reduce the violence in Baltimore and several other high-crime cities across the U.S. that he says haven’t seen change. That change begins with a conversation between the communities directly involved, Scott says.

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