In a recent article, local Baltimore resident Freddie Gray died of a spinal injury while in the custody of police. Since the funeral, local Black teenagers have expressed their discontent. The Baltimore police can use a team building process to enhance community relations that have suffered as a result of the Freddie Gray incident.

According to a recent article, within an hour after the Freddie Gray funeral dozens of teenagers had shown up at the Mondawin Mall as well as dozens of police officers. One young woman picked up stones while officers fastened riot helmets. The officers and teenagers faced off across a narrow road off the mall’s parking lot.

Soon the officers started yelling at the teenagers, instructing them to leave mall grounds. Their demands were met with chants of “Fuck the police!” and “Don’t shoot!” The teens could be heard saying police had “started” things by killing Gray.

Once pushback from officers began to get intense, teenagers ran to a 7-Eleven on the other side of Reisterstown Road — they were upset, but still relatively peaceful.

This was short-lived. Soon rocks, bricks and glass bottles were being thrown at officers.

About 15 minutes after things heated up, an armored vehicle belonging to the Baltimore Police Department was on the scene, seemingly chasing down groups of teenagers as they pelted it with rocks.

At least two of the mall protesters were detained by police and another teenager was knocked unconscious, during what appeared to be an attempted detainment. Several protesters who were following the cops as they carried the unconscious boy were pushed back by cops and eventually pepper sprayed.

Bricks and other items were still being thrown at officers, and officers continued pepper spraying and pushing back the crowd. Several officers were injured and carried away.

After about 90 minutes, police seemed to have gained control of the situation, with officers standing shoulder-to-shoulder and blocking access to a three-block stretch of Reisterstown Road in front of the mall.

This interaction between police and teenagers that resulted form the Freddie Gray will have repercussions for years unless the police use a team building process to enhance community relations.

Recruitment Process

An effective team building process will require the recruitment of 25 people from the community and 5 persons form the Baltimore government. The Baltimore government representatives should include the mayor, the chief of police, and three White police officers who normally are out in the eye of the public. The community should consist of 15 teenagers and 10 adults. The fifteen teenagers should have 10 high school students and 5 middle school teenagers. The demographics of the students should represent a cross demographical section of the students and should not include any students who are part of the student government for any school. The parents should not e related to any students who participate in the team building process.

Building Better Group Dynamics

The Freddie Gray incident has created much distrust amongst students and parent and Baltimore government officials. Without the proper process the team building strategy is doomed to fail. Each individual group will believe that their opinion is superior to the other group. The best way to offset this problem is to use an introductory assessment that enables each group to appreciate the different talents that each person possesses. Next, the group will benefit from a conflict management assessment. This will inform each member of the group how each member deals with conflict.

Shared Vision Development

The group will need to have something to guide it through the process. A shared vision is a tool that will unite the group and therefore provide the energy and focus to benefit from the team building process that is necessary to enhance community relations that were severed as a result of the Freddie Gray incident.

Strategic Planning

Divide the total group into five groups of six people. Each group will be required to have 1 Baltimore government representative, at least two parents, and at least three students. Each group will work together over a five week period to develop goals, objectives, timelines, and costs as part of a strategic plan to enhance community relations that were severed as a result of the Freddie Gray incident.

Culminating Presentation

In the final meeting, the groups will present their strategic plan for funding and community approval.

Using this process has included all stakeholders. This process will allow for the involvement of all stakeholders and result in improving community relations that became problematic after the Freddie Gray incident.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships


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