On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray, a young African American male, died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police. In response to his death, which occurred less than a year after a similar incident in Ferguson, Missouri, protestors mobilized daily in Baltimore to vocalize their frustrations, including what they saw as law enforcement’s long-standing mistreatment of the African American community. Then, on April 27, following Gray’s funeral, riots and acts of vandalism broke out across the city. Overwhelmed by the unrest, the Baltimore police requested assistance from other police forces. Later that evening, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the Maryland National Guard. At the local level, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a nightly curfew beginning Tuesday evening.
“Into Local Streets” focuses on the role of the National Guard in the response to the protests and violence following Gray’s death, vividly depicting the actions and decision-making processes of the Guard’s senior-most leaders. In particular, it highlights the experience of the state’s Adjutant General, Linda Singh, who soon found herself navigating a complicated web of officials and agencies from both state and local government – and their different perspectives on how to bring an end to the crisis.
This case prompts readers to reflect on challenges the National Guard may encounter when responding to civil unrest in domestic settings. It asks readers to consider how the Guard can best partner with the many different law enforcement agencies that will be involved in – and frequently in command of – the response to such events. The case also highlights some of the challenges Guard leaders may face when interfacing with elected officials – at both the state and local levels.