U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday met with the family of Freddie Gray, the young black man who died in police custody, in Baltimore along with police officers and local religious leaders after rioting and racial tension in that city last week.
Lynch, the first African American woman to hold the post, came to the city on Tuesday to "hold your hands and provide support," she told community and religious leaders after Gray's death sparked several days of rioting, looting and vandalism and forced city officials to declare a curfew for five nights last week.
During her visit, Lynch met behind closed doors with the family of the 25-year-old Gray, who died on April 19 after a week in a coma brought on when he suffered a serious spinal injury during his arrest.
The initially peaceful protests over Gray's death became serious riots throughout the city and police arrested hundreds of rioters and looters.
The young man's arrest had been videotaped and - on the basis of that tape - six police officers, three of them white and three black, were charged with murder late last week.
After meeting at the University of Baltimore with Rev. Donte Hickman, whose church lost its adult center in a fire during the violence a week ago, Lynch went to the city police department, where she met privately with Baltimore police chief Anthony Batts, whose face was one of those most visible during the local authorities' response to the rioting last week.
During her visit to the police, Lynch, who has been in her post for a week, also met with 12 of the officers who were deployed to deal with the rioting.
"We are here to help you work through these struggles," Lynch said. "To all of you on the front lines, I want to thank you. You really have become the face of law enforcement. "
During the afternoon, Lynch also met with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, with whom she discussed the Justice Department-led reforms under way to halt abuses on the part of the police.
With a lengthy career as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn behind her, the 55-year-old Lynch has continued the work of her predecessor, Eric Holder, in traveling to conflicted communities and maintaining the dialogue between law enforcement and minorities to ease racial tensions after several deaths of unarmed African American suspects at the hands of police.