The police-involved shootings this past week are making headlines across the country, but it's also striking a nerve in Baltimore.
The graphic videos of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille filmed on cell phones have prompted a number of reactions on social media.
According to a Washington Post database, 509 people have been shot and killed by police this year.
“What we find ourselves in is in the midst of an unfolding series of criminal justice tragedies. From Minnesota to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but really across the country, over and over again we see these horrific videos followed by hashtags, which barely represent the human beings that have lost their lives at the hands of the police,” said Cornell William Brooks, the President and CEO of the NAACP.
In response to the videos, people have been expressing sadness, anger, frustration. All feelings not uncommon to some people in Baltimore.
“We do see a big connection between Baltimore City and that's taking place nationally. It's an epidemic, it's systemic racism in our country and it's got to end,” said Sharon Black, a volunteer organizer with the People's Power Assembly.
The local organization will be holding a rally Friday evening starting at 6 p.m. in McKeldin Square at Pratt and Light streets in response to the two shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.
“It's to give people a chance to speak out against police terror around the country, which has now become an epidemic. It's just terrible. We watch these videos and it's very clear what took place in our eyes,” Black said.
Judges and juries will have the final say on what exactly they see in the videos, but the viral clips are also affecting how some people view policing.
“Yes it's graphic, yes it's disturbing, but unfortunately it's necessary because this is what's really happening in our cities,” Black said.
“Police officers are to be appreciated, they are to be respected, but they cannot be regarded as perfect,” Brooks said.
As to what can be done to prevent more tragedies, the NAACP has some ideas.
“The NAACP all across this country, we are mobilizing our branches to take a strong stand against this to push for legislative reforms because this is not a matter of us having these interviews over and over again, talking about these tragedies over and over again, people tweeting over and over again, we as a country deserve better than this,” said Brooks.
The People's Power Assembly said the purpose of Friday’s rally is to demand justice for Alton Sterling, Philando Castille and all victims of police terror.