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On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Maryland, was murdered by officers of the Baltimore Police Department while in their custody. An article published in The Atlantic three days after Gray’s death pointed out the historical precedent for this particular kind of state violence. The author wrote, “Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new.” The “peculiar institution” of this violent and racist system can be better understood by tracing the lineage of the police back in time.