Rep. Elijah Cummings co-hosts a public town hall on the findings of the U.S. Department of Justice report on the Baltimore Police Department and the path forward. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun video)
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said Wednesday that the Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department, and the reforms now being negotiated by federal officials and the city, provide a rare opportunity to address some of the city's most challenging problems.
"I don't want my children's children's children to have to fight the same fights," the Baltimore Democrat told the more than 200 who crowded Westminster Hall to discuss the report.
"All of us" should want change, Cummings said, so no one experiences the mistreatment described in the report. "I'm begging you to work with this process."
Cummings; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; and Donald Tobin, dean of the University of Maryland School of Law, led the discussion.
In the blistering report issued last month, the Justice Department concluded that Baltimore police routinely violated the civil and constitutional rights of the city's residents.
Justice Department investigators accused officers of using undue force, discriminating against African-Americans, mishandling sexual assault cases, using Tasers excessively and without justification, and failing to meaningfully investigate complaints of police misconduct.
Wednesday's meeting was one of the events at which the public can comment on policing in Baltimore while federal and city officials negotiate court-enforceable reforms.
Ken Ward, 45, said he felt compelled to attend because the problems outlined in the report should concern all city residents, and Americans.
"You have a report that says what Baltimore residents have known for 50 years," the Baltimore man said.
He said many residents are regularly harassed by police.