Following Gray’s death, who died due to breaking his neck in a police van, there were protests and riots that damaged 400 businesses and helped to stoke the Black Lives Matter flame (a movement to challenge the way police treat minorities). “The causes of the civil disturbance in Baltimore last year have not been eliminated,” said Billy Murphy, a lawyer who represents Gray’s family and settled a $6.4 million civil settlement with the city. “This can happen again,” he said, adding he was not speaking for Gray’s relatives. Tourism in the inner harbor has rebounded, and roughly 93 percent of the businesses that closed after the riots have reopened, according to officials.
However, chronic economic problems have persisted, unemployment has dipped to 7.1 percent, exceeds the national rate of 5 percent. About 23 percent of the residents live in poverty, which is 5 points above the national rate. Despite the economic problems, what took place last year has led to the formation of many coalitions bringing together businesses and non-profits for economic initiatives.
One example involves Baltimore-based mutual fund companies Legg Mason Inc. and T. Rowe Price Group Inc, apparel makers Under Armour, and Johns Hopkins University. The coalition has plans to invest $69 million in a buy-local campaign which includes minority-owned businesses. Diane Bell-McKoy, chief executive of Associated Black Charities, sees real economic improvement. “It’s slower than any of us want, and not helping enough people yet, but, definitely, change,” she said.