“I hurt like y’all hurt…I understand exactly where y’all are coming from,” D.C-based rapper Wale told the students at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore on their first day back at school since the city broke out in protests and demonstrations following Freddie Gray’s service. Wale visited along with Rev. Jamal Bryant, who eulogized Gray at his funeral. The rapper was interviewed by Good Day DC (who introduced him in remarkably upbeat fashion given the reason for his visit) and explained his desire to visit the students: “These are the young leaders of tomorrow and they have to look in the mirror and see something better than what they’re being perceived as on TV.”
Gray, a 25-year-old black Baltimore local, died on April 19 from a severe spinal cord injury sustained after he was taken into police custody on April 12. Questions over the circumstances by which Gray incurred the injury remain unanswered. But at the time of his apprehension, Gray was reportedly uninjured but by the time he arrived at the station he had slipped into a coma — on the day of his death, video surfaced of him being put in a police van, seemingly limp. Doctors found that his spin was severed 80 percent, along with a fractured vertebrae. The Baltimore native had had numerous scrapes with law enforcement, having been arrested at least 18 times, before over the possession and distribution of drugs.