On Day of Reconciliation, another police shooting

(UPDATE: The Sun and Baltimore Bloc have identified the victim as 14-year-old Dedric Colvin.)

This was supposed to be the Day of Reconciliation.

A stage was set up on a grassy hill at Reisterstown Road and Liberty Heights Avenue overlooking Mondawmin Mall, where a year ago today riots broke out after the Baltimore Police Department shut down the buses at the Metro station and confronted students getting out of school.

It's what led to the riots and fires in the name of Freddie Gray who died in police custody. As city officials urged healing, across town a 13-year-old boy with a replica gun who fled plainclothes police was shot.

Here, near Mondawmin Mall, things were peaceful.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for the Day of Reconciliation to "stand united as one city." But as the event got underway, media and officials far outnumbered citizens at the freshly cut field near the Parks and People Foundation's headquarters. Three protesters from the group Maryland Working Families silently held signs that read "1 Year Later... Still No Investment," "1 Year Later... Still No Justice," and "Port Covington: $535 million. Our schools & families? $0!"

"My hope is we will use today as a time of reflection," Rawlings-Blake said from the stage, a large video board intended for a larger audience flashing random colors behind her.

With faith leaders of various religions in attendance, the mayor asked for continued prayers for Baltimore. She said she would continue to work to make the city "safer, healthier, more economically sound."

She made a "personal appeal" to businesses and foundations to fund jobs for young people, saying 9,400 had enrolled in a summer jobs program.

Then she made reference to last night's primary election, saying she was proud of State Sen. Catherine Pugh, the Democratic nominee for mayor, and the campaign she'd run.

"And I'm looking forward to working with you over these next couple months to move our city forward," she said.

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis took the mic next, acknowledging that the citizens of Baltimore and his officers have "traveled this journey over the last year."

"We've realized that we can't police in our neighborhoods in a one-dimensional way," he said. In addition to dealing with threats, the police are "equally tasked with building a relationship with our community that's built on trust and respect."

After a speech from radio personality Larry Young, Pugh recalled the events of a year ago, saying she "asked mothers to come get their babies and fathers to come get their children, and they did. And for that I am grateful."

Then, she launched into fiery rhetoric that sounded not unlike a campaign speech.

"We understand the importance of a great downtown, but we also understand the importance of great neighborhoods," she said.

She talked about the city's AA bond rating and how that offered the opportunity to build. She spelled out her plan of "lifting the least of us while we lift all of us," and she promised a transition between mayoral administrations "in such a way that we've never seen before."

Not long after she yielded the mic to community activist Stokey Cannady, there was a report of a police-involved shooting in Southeast Baltimore, near the McKim Community Center on East Baltimore Street.

Davis rushed down to the scene to brief reporters: A 13 year old had been shot carrying a replica Beretta semiautomatic handgun. Two plainclothes officers saw the gun and approached the teenager, who ran. After a chase, Davis said, one of the officers fired their weapon and shot the teenager "in the lower extremities." He is expected to survive. (Some time after the press briefing, Davis said the officers identified themselves before the pursuit, according to The Sun, and the department released a picture of the gun.)

As the commissioner answered questions, someone from a small crowd of onlookers standing behind the crime scene tape yelled, "Now they making up shit."

Taking a somewhat combative tone, Davis questioned why a 13 year old would leave the house with the replica gun in the first place, and why his mother, who apparently knew he had it, would allow that to happen.

"I'm not sure I'll ever be able to explain human behavior to anyone," he said.

A witness, who asked not to be identified, told City Paper that the mother asked officers which hospital her son was going to, and as she was leaving, officers locked her up. The witness provided video of the encounter. Davis told the press the mother was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Once the basics were established, the obvious could not be ignored. Davis was asked about his thoughts on a police shooting occurring on the anniversary of the unrest. He wished he wasn't here but "the job of police officers here, and elsewhere, goes on," he said. And it is the job of officers to identify threats with guns.

Asked if the boy pointed the gun at officers or if he was on the ground when the officer shot him, Davis said those details would become available following an investigation.

"It's a sacred obligation of the police department," he said. "And we're gonna get it right."

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