Tag Archives: Baltimore

300 Men March in Baltimore

Back in May I blogged about the 300 Men March.  This past Friday evening in Baltimore the 300 Man March took to the streets for their 3rd annual march. Those who attended listened to community activists, Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and politicians including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake before they marched. More than 150 people including 12 children have been killed in Baltimore in 2015.

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On a day when three men were shot — two seriously — the third annual 300 Men March drew at least that many people for a 10-mile round-trip hike down West North Avenue and back. Politicians and community activists addressed the crowd, many of them wearing black “300 Men March” T-shirts, before it set out.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was there, as she has been before the previous marches. She said she came to march and pray with them for an end to the violence plaguing the city, which has intensified since the rioting in April.

“It’s not about pointing fingers,” she said, or “making excuses. … It’s about stepping up.”

Event organizers, including Councilman Brandon Scott and 300 Men March leader Munir Bahar, said this year’s demonstration was focused particularly in memory of the 12 children killed this year.

Due to a spike in homicides, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently fired Commissioner Anthony W. Batts.

Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis joined the speakers on the platform and addressed the crowd, vowing to “fight relentlessly” to make the city safer. But he also pledged to strive toward better police-community relations “based on two things — trust and respect.” Davis was elevated to the position Wednesday after the Rawlings-Blake fired Commissioner Anthony W. Batts.

Check out the Baltimore Sun to read the entire article and for more information about 300 Men March check out their website here.

Devin Allen lands first solo exhibit

Last month Baltimore photographer Devin Allen’s photo of a young man running down the street in front of the police during the Baltimore unrest covered the May 11, 2015 issue of Time Magazine.

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Starting in July Devin will have his first solo exhibit at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

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The West Baltimore photographer whose iconic image of the Freddie Gray unrest made the cover of “Time” magazine is getting his own solo show.

“Devin Allen: Awakenings, In a New Light” will debut on July 7 and will run through Dec. 10 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.

When his black and white shot of a man running down the street in front of a line of baton-wielding Baltimore police officers ran in “Time’s” May 11 issue, the twentysomething street photographer became just the third amateur image-maker to see his work on the magazine’s cover.

The photos, some of which will be blown up to more than 20 feet wide, show both the struggle and the humanity of the unrest from the viewpoints of police officers and protestors, according to the museum’s news release.

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According to the Baltimore Sun the public will be admitted for free in a new community space where the exhibit will be held.

A home is lost during the Baltimore riots

Until the early morning of April 28, 2015, home for Laporsha Lawson and her son Khai’Lee Sampson who is severely disabled was at Hilton Street and Piedmont Avenue.

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All of that changed on Monday April 27 when after the funeral of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore riots occurred. Ms. Lawson’s home was located next to a liquor store that was burned down by arsonists. Even though Ms. Lawson was able to save her son she lost many items that her son needed relating to his health.

“They took everything from my child,” said Lawson, 28.

The wheelchair customized for Khai’Lee’s small body, the back brace that helps him sit upright, the machine that pumps oxygen into his lungs when he stops breathing at night — all were destroyed. So were the supplies for his feeding tube, his clothes, even his new swing.

As Lawson cradled the 7-year-old on her parents’ sofa recently, she said she felt betrayed by her neighborhood.

While she understands the rioters’ anger at the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered a spinal injury in police custody, she can’t understand why people would destroy their own community.

“Everybody wants justice for Freddie Gray,” said Lawson. “But what about justice for Khai’Lee?”

Lawson, who goes by Porsha, and her parents, Jerome and Gloria Dukes, believe arsonists were attempting to destroy the liquor store adjacent to Lawson’s home in the Hanlon-Longwood neighborhood, about a mile west of Mondawmin Mall.

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I agree with Ms. Lawson. I have never understood why people burn down and destroy their own neighborhoods. If it hadn’t been for her neighbor Ms. Lawson and her son could have been killed in that fire.

Until she can find another home Ms. Lawson is living with her parents in Baltimore.

Lawson and Khai’Lee have been staying with her parents since the fire. It’s a tight squeeze, as her grandfather and eldest nephew are also staying in the house. Piles of clothes and diapers that have been donated to Lawson and her son are stacked around the living room.

On a recent afternoon, Khai’Lee reclined on the sofa. His legs, delicate as a bird’s, were bent at a sharp angle. His big brown eyes darted back and forth, framed by long lashes.

“He looks flushed,” murmured his grandmother, angling the fan to blow on his face. His grandfather wiped drool away from the corner of the boy’s mouth.

Gloria Dukes said she’ll never forget the sight of Lawson, her youngest child, standing at the door with the boy cradled in her arms. She could see the flames in the distance behind them.

There is an online fundraiser going on right now to help Ms. Lawson and her son. So far more than $28,000 has been raised but that still isn’t enough to replace Khai’Lee’s medical equipment.  Check it out hereI read that Beyonce and Jay Z helped bail out some of the Baltimore protesters after the riots.  Maybe someone can let them know about Ms. Lawson and her son so they can rebuild their lives.

You can read the entire article here at the Baltimore Sun.

300 Men March

While violence erupted a couple of weeks ago in Baltimore, a group of men called the 300 Men March walked through the streets of the city trying to quell the violence.

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During the unrest 300 Men March members found themselves standing between the police and those protesting the death of Freddie Gray. The group was founded in 2013 by Munir Bahar, a tax accountant and fitness enthusiast.  At the time he created the group Baltimore was going through a very violent summer. According to the 300 Men March website:

We are a movement of men and women across the entire City of Baltimore united to press the issue of everyday gun violence in our urban neighborhoods. We do not protest, we do not blame others, we are not a prayer group. We are citizens, fed up with current accepted patterns of violence in our community. We exist to fulfill our mission. Our mission is to decrease gun violence.

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The rioters had rocks and bricks. The police, dressed in military gear, had guns.

The 300 Men March had black T-shirts.

As chaos broke out across Baltimore last week, dozens of men from the grass-roots group walked violent city streets, breaking up fights and inserting themselves between angry young men and the police.

“They did a fantastic job,” said the Rev. Louis Wilson, pastor of New Song Community Church in Sandtown-Winchester. “Any time you have a number of men stepping up, I think it has a significant impact.”

Community members say the 300 Men group, as well as other volunteers who patrolled tense neighborhoods, played a key role as peacekeepers amid the lawlessness.

You can read the entire article here and check out the 300 Men March website here.

Black words matter

There’s an article in the Baltimore Sun about Baltimore students who are expressing themselves through writing in light of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and recently Baltimore. A nonprofit group called Writers in Baltimore Schools has been working with students since 2008. The group hosted its 2nd #Blackwordsmatter write-in recently after the Baltimore unrest. The first one was held after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Students talk about the Freddie Gray case as well as what it means to be black and how they feel at odds with the police.

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It was just five months ago that Afiya Ervin sat down at a gathering of young writers feeling out of place. Writing out her feelings was as foreign to her as the unrest that she saw in Ferguson, Mo., after a young black man was shot by a white police officer. So she called her poem “I’ve finally started writing.”

But on Sunday, as she sat down at a write-in to work through her feelings about the events that have rocked her hometown over the last week, the 16-year-old Baltimore City College High School student filled two pages in no time.

“When I turned on the TV, I almost forgot how bright Baltimore was

Because now the flames from cop cars and CVS blocked the way sun danced on the looters faces

The lights and cameras flashed too bright and stunned me from seeing the way the father was only taking toilet paper and milk or any other necessity his family needed

The helicopter was too loud and left a ringing in my ears

So that I can not hear the screams from every Baltimorean asking, crying, and begging for justice”

Ervin’s poem, “I almost forgot,” was one of several written by students at the #Blackwordsmatter write-in in Charles Village.

The nonprofit Writers in Baltimore Schools, which has been working with city students since 2008, hosted the event — the second of its kind — at the 2640 Space, formerly the St. John’s United Methodist Church, on St. Paul Street.

You can read the entire article at the Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore by Prince

Yesterday Prince released his new song Baltimore.  Check it out here at SoundCloud. Prince wrote the song to address the recent unrest in Baltimore and the slew of killings of young black men across the country.

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His Rally4Peace concert is being held tonight at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore starting at 8:00pm.  Doors open at 6:30pm.  If you can’t make it you can stream it for free at Tidal.

Prince Announces Rally 4 Peace Concert in Baltimore

According to WTOP.com and CBS News.com, music artist Prince has announced a special concert in Baltimore at the Royal Farms Arena on Mother’s Day May 10, 2015.  Royal Farms Arena is located about a block away from the Baltimore Convention Center on the corner of Baltimore Street and Hopkins Place.  It’s also a short distance from the Inner Harbor.  Prince will be appearing with his band 3RDEYEGIRL.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Wednesday May 6) at 5:00pm at Live Nation.com.

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“In a spirit of healing, the event is meant to be a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the US. As a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another, attendees are invited to wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence,” the press release states.

Live Nation says Prince recorded a song entitled “Baltimore” in response to recent civil unrest following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died from injuries he received while in police custody.

Where are the older black men in Baltimore?

Yesterday I was watching CNN and Poppy Harlow was interviewing CNN writer/producer John Blake.  Mr. Blake returned to his West Baltimore neighborhood after the recent riots.  He wrote an excellent article titled Lord of the Flies Comes To BaltimoreLord of the Flies was written in 1954 and tells the story of a group of young boys plane-wrecked on a deserted island.  These young men try to govern themselves without any adult guidance.  When Mr. Blake returned to his West Baltimore neighborhood he felt like Lord of the Flies had taken over his old neighborhood.

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN)He was a quiet man who once stood watch on his front porch, just three blocks away from where a riot erupted in West Baltimore this week.

We called him “Mr. Shields” because no one dared use his first name. He’d step onto his porch at night in plaid shorts and black knit dress socks to watch the Baltimore Orioles play on his portable television set.

He was a steelworker, but he looked debonair: thin mustache always trimmed; wavy salt-and-pepper hair touched up with pomade; cocoa brown skin. He sat like a sentry, watching not just the games but the neighborhood as well.

I knew Mr. Shields’ routine because I was his neighbor. I grew up in the West Baltimore community that was rocked this week by protests over the death of a young black man in police custody.

It’s surreal to see your old neighborhood go up in flames as commentators try to explain the rage with various complex racial and legal theories. But when I returned to my home this week, the rage made sense to me. There were no more Mr. Shields — the older black men were gone.

Read the entire article here at CNN.com.

A picture from Baltimore

I saw this picture of the National Guardsman and the little girl at the Baltimore Sun.

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The picture was taken by Annapolis writer and activist Amanda Moore. The article stated that many people found the picture heartwarming. I thought it was heartwarming. But I also thought “is that gun he’s holding loaded?” And maybe he should point it in a different direction.

A picture posted Friday to the popular Reddit website showing a young girl and a National Guardsman on the streets of Baltimore has drawn more than 2.5 million views so far.

The image was taken by Amanda Moore, 26, an Annapolis-based activist and writer, who said she spent the past week in the city trying to assist in efforts against police brutality.

Wendell Pierce’s column about Baltimore

Actor Wendell Pierce has a column in the Washington Post this week about how artists like himself can help to change the way young people respond when tragedies like Freddie Gray happen in their communities.

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Wendell Pierce starred in HBO’s The Wire and Treme. The Wire took place in Baltimore. He mentions the similarities between Baltimore and his hometown of New Orleans.

I’m not a native son of Baltimore, but the city welcomed me and became a second home during the seven years I lived there part-time filming “The Wire.” I know the neighborhood where Freddie Gray’s tragic death took place. I recognize the residents, who may be materially poor but are spiritually rich. And I feel the parallels between Baltimore and my hometown of New Orleans: majority-black cities struggling to emerge from years of economic decline and high unemployment.

Both have police forces that have been repeatedly accused of abuse, overstepping their boundaries as civil servants and responding to the people they’re sworn to protect as if they had no civil or human rights. In the case of both cities, citizens have had to watch as outside interests invest in and develop parts of their cities without the involvement or interest of lifelong residents. It seems, sometimes, that gentrifiers think they’ve discovered and rescued some treasure that no one else recognized or valued. And when they see rioting, of the kind that we saw this week in Baltimore, it only reinforces their perceptions. But nothing could be further from the truth.

He also states:

Ask economist Nouriel Roubini, who explains that in response to this crisis, the solution “can’t just be to send more police in the streets or the National Guard,” but instead, “We have to deal with this issue of poverty, of unemployment and economic opportunities.”

His column also mentions how the city of Baltimore has taken from the poor and invested heavily into the tourist area of the Inner Harbor, how he’s praying for Baltimore, his hometown of New Orleans and other cities, how their needs to be a trust created between the people and elected officials and continue to tell the untold stories of those who feel their voices don’t matter.

Check out the entire article here at the Washington Post.

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