A man sits on a bicycle in front of a line of police officers in riot gear ahead of a 10 p.m. curfew in the wake of Monday's riots following the funeral for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Fleeing from police is not, by itself, illegal in America, and the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that in safe neighborhoods, people not suspected of criminal activity can ignore a police officer who approaches them, even to the point of walking away.But courts have set a different standard for places where street crime is common, ruling that police can chase, stop and frisk people if their location contributes to a suspicion of criminal activity.The court rulings justifying police chases in high-crime areas where many African-Americans live are contributing to a dangerous divide between police and citizens, said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.Baltimore police initially said the officers acted because they believed Gray was involved in some kind of criminal activity.Even without a law however, officers can make so-called "good arrests" of runners that will hold up in court because of two legal requirements that have evolved from court rulings on police powers to stop people.This is the pretext often used by police for "stop and frisk" encounters, and the fact that Gray was in an identifiable high-crime neighborhood adds to the justification by police.
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