Cummings promises justice for Freddie Gray in fiery comments at funeral

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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Monday promised justice for a Baltimore man who died in police custody.

{mosads}“I’ve often said that our children are the living messages we send to the future we will never see, but now, our children are sending us to a future they will never see,” Cummings said during an emotional and fiery speech at Freddie Gray’s funeral.

“There is something wrong with that picture,” he said with a slight tremor in his voice.

“I’m in the twilight years, but I am telling you we will not rest we will not rest until we address this and see that justice is done,” he said, addressing Gray’s mother.

“Look at ‘em, mother. We will not rest. So it is our watch, it’s our watch. We will not fail you.”

Cummings asked all of the lawmakers in the church to stand up to show Gray’s mother that they would seek justice for her son.

The longtime Baltimore lawmaker also noted the presence of a number of media organizations at the crowded funeral.

“As I thought about the cameras,” Cummings said, “I wondered: Did anybody recognize Freddie when he was alive?”

Thousands — including the family of Eric Garner, the New York man who died in an altercation with police last summer, and two White House aides — attended Gray’s funeral in Baltimore.

Cummings said that, while many might tell Gray’s family not to cry, he would not ask them to hold back.

“I put my nephew in the grave four years ago, blasted away; they still don’t know who did it,” he said.

“I mourn every day, every day I mourn for what could have been.”

Inside the church, he closed with a quote from the Old Testament’s Book of Amos.

“I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

Gray, who was 25 years old, died on April 19 from a severe spinal injury after he had been arrested by the Baltimore Police Department. It is unclear how Gray suffered the injury that led to his death — witnesses have accused officers of beating him, but police say no evidence of that exists.

Many say Gray’s death is the latest evidence that the federal government must play a bigger role in preventing police-related killings of black men.

But White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday local authorities are responsible for repairing relations between law enforcement and communities.

“Ultimately this is a problem that the federal government is not going to be able to solve,” he said. “It’s going to require the commitment of local elected officials, local law enforcement leaders and communities across the country to try to address this problem where it exists.”

Earnest said the administration is ready to assist local governments in their efforts. A White House report published last month recommended that local police increase use of body cameras and report all officer-involved shootings to the federal government.

The city of Baltimore and the Justice Department are both investigating the death.

— Jordan Fabian contributed. Last updated at 3:14 p.m.

Tags Baltimore Elijah Cummings Freddie Gray
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