‘OITNB’ Star Danielle Brooks on Baltimore Unrest: ‘These Are Kids That Want to Be Heard’ (Video)

“We’re focusing on all of the looting and these ‘rough thug kids,’ but we have to start talking about the issues,” actress tells TheWrap

Last Updated: April 30, 2015 @ 6:18 PM

The ongoing protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray continue to capture the attention of people across the country, including “Orange Is the New Black” actress Danielle Brooks.

“It is a really rough world we are living in especially with everything going on in Baltimore,” Brooks said while taping an upcoming episode of TheWrap’s “Drinking with the Stars” on Season 3 of her hit Netflix original series.

“I have been watching a lot of CNN and we’re focusing on all of the looting and these ‘rough thug kids,’ but we have to start talking about the issues, the cause … ‘stop and frisk’ and all of those things, so we can figure it out,” she added.

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28: Protestors defy curfew in front of police officers the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray on April 28, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Houses housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

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Baltimore police made 235 arrests on Monday when tensions flared following the funeral for Gray, who died after suffering severe spinal injuries while in police custody. As tensions soared, dozens of cars and buildings went up in flames and 20 officers were injured. The following night, a week-long citywide curfew was imposed from 10 p.m to 5 a.m. As the curfew took effect, there were brief disturbances but police officials said overall it helped ease the violence.

Brooks, who plays Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on “OITNB,” believes many protesters took to the streets as a way to speak out.

“These are kids that want to be heard. They might not know the right way to do it,” she said. “Who is our leader? We had Malcolm X, we had Martin Luther King, Jr… We are in a world that is changing with social media now where everyone is tweeting and it is so easy to tweet about something and the whole country knows it.”

“I am not saying I am that person, I am not a politician,” the actress from Augusta, Georgia, added. “I very rarely talk about issues like this except on my own social media.”

Gray, 25, was picked up by officers April 12. The Baltimore Police Department has not officially disclosed why he was taken into custody, though it said he fled after officers made eye contact with him. Footage recorded by bystanders appeared to show Gray shouting in pain as he was apprehended. He slipped into a coma on April 16 and died three days later.

On Wednesday, protests over Gray’s death spread to other cities including New York, Boston, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. The Baltimore P.D. says it will turn over findings from its investigation to the state’s attorney on Friday.

“Orange Is the New Black” returns to Netflix on June 12.

Watch the video of Brooks’ interview here.

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