Thousands attend funeral of black man who died in police custody

Washington, Apr 27 (EFE).- Thousands of people in Baltimore came Monday to see off Freddie Gray, an African American who died two weeks ago while in police custody in the latest incident to spur protests over police conduct toward blacks.

Gray, 25, suffered a severed spine at some point following his April 12 arrest and Baltimore police have acknowledged that he requested medical help and an inhaler after he was detained.

This latest case has reopened wounds of the African American community, who after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, pointed to the constant and disproportionate use of force by police against black citizens.

Protests broke out again after Gray's death, and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had to make a call for calm after police arrested 31 adults and four minors on Sunday in a confrontation that left six cops injured.

"I hope that as the eyes of the country are on Baltimore, that we see very clearly that this is a community that's willing to confront tough issues, that's willing to demand accountability, but also demands peace and progress at the same time," she said in comments cited by the Baltimore Sun.

The funeral, held at the New Shiloh Baptist Church, brought out more than 2,000 friends, neighbors and political representatives to accompany the Gray family to bid their final farewell.

Among them were members of the family of Eric Gardner, the African American who died last year in New York following an argument with police, as well as several high officials from the White House.

Many of those present wore pure white clothing in protest against the young man's death, while the words "Black lives matter and all lives matter" were projected on a wall inside the church.

At his daily press conference, White House spokesman Josh Earnest refused to comment on the circumstances under which Gray died so as not to "interfere" in the investigation, and recalled that the Justice Department is gathering information about what happened.

For his part, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings vowed justice for the Gray family during the Monday ceremony.