In late June, a little more than a month after the uprisings involving the death of Freddie Gray, a series of tweets appeared from retired Baltimore police officer and former Sgt.Michael A. Wood Jr., who worked on the force 2003-2014, that started with: “I’m going to start Tweeting the things I’ve seen & participated in, in policing that is corrupt, intentional or not.”
Wood had spoken about police corruption previously, but these tweets went viral. They included discussion of incidents in which a police officer slapped a black woman in the face for accidentally bumping in to him, and kicking a handcuffed suspect in the face. Wood says that black people were specifically targeted and added, “All of these things that you suspected, it’s all real.”
Wood reveals more to The Root about police corruption and a system he feels is broken and needs an overhaul, not just repair.
The Root: What inspired you to reveal these stories?
Michael Wood: I had been talking for a long time, actually. I saw disparity and mismanagement in the ranks. I think when the commissioner came out with the denial of Freddie Gray or seeing the Tamir Rice video. The Tamir Rice video is unbelievable. They come out and say this is OK, and this is the epitome of not being OK. I think it was just a boiling over of frustration.
TR: What were some of the illegal tactics that specifically targeted black people?
MW: The car stops. What they did was, they just went from car stop to car stop intentionally targeting black males all [ages] 16-24. It’s impossible to drive legally; you touch the white line once and it’s illegal. The alternate thing is, that would never happen to me as a white male. I carried a gun almost every day for the last 15 years and never been approached. We stopped black males in the city thousands of times a day.
It’s not called out because it’s just so ingrained. We know blacks and whites use drugs at the same rate. If you’re targeting somebody, then you’re creating the stats.
TR: Was there someone giving these orders? Someone who was saying this is what you need to do in terms of quotas?