Morgan Freeman on Baltimore and the ‘Terrorism We Suffer From the Police’

Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman’s latest movie is “5 Flights Up,” with Diane Keaton. Focus World/Lascaux Films

Morgan Freeman supports the Baltimore protests sparked by the death of Freddie Gray and says technology is bringing to light “how dangerous police are.”

The Academy Award-winning actor spoke out on the subject in a Thursday morning interview with Newsweek.

“I was watching the news last night,” he said, “and [a protester] said, ‘You know, when we were out here marching peacefully, nobody was here. And now we start burning the place down, everybody is listening. What do you think we’re gonna do to be heard?’

It’s like, hey, she’s got a point there,” Freeman said. Asked if he is supportive of the protestors, he replied, “Absolutely.”

Freeman, known for iconic roles in The Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy, among dozens of other acclaimed films, was granting interviews in support of the romantic comedy 5 Flights Up, in which he and Diane Keaton play a long-married couple in Brooklyn. The movie has a subplot in which New York is thrown into chaos over a suspected terrorist attack, which Freeman said does not share similarities to recent real-life events.

“That unrest [in Baltimore] has nothing to do with terrorism at all, except the terrorism we suffer from the police,” the 77-year-old star said. “And the fact that now that’s out in the open.” Freeman referred to the case of Amadou Diallo, the Guinea immigrant who in 1999 was killed by four New York City plainclothes officers who mistook his wallet for a gun. “Forty-one times he was shot. That was the beginning of our understanding of how dangerous police are.”

Freeman has commented publicly on racial issues before, describing the concept of Black History Month as “ridiculous” in a 2005 interview. The current unrest in Baltimore stems from outrage following the death of Gray, a 25-year-old African-American who died of a spinal cord injury suffered while in police custody.

Regarding that case, Freeman also mentioned how mobile technology brings more attention to specific incidents of police violence. “Because of the technology—everybody has a smartphone—now we can see what the police are doing,” he said. “We can show the world, Look, this is what happened in that situation. So why are so many people dying in police custody? And why are they all black? And why are all the police killing them white? What is that?

“The police have always said, ‘I feared for my safety,’” Freeman added. “Well, now we know. OK. You feared for your safety while a guy was running away from you, right?”