At that point, I had yet to meet people like Lawrence Brown, Megan Kenny, The Baltimore Bloc, DeRay Mckesson or Johnetta Elzie but was watching their feeds and live streams intently. I gradually began to get more and more frustrated that what I was seeing on the news wasn’t matching what people on the ground were saying.
I had seen DeRay speak of storytelling as resistance during the movement in Ferguson, and so I finally decided to go out and try to capture what people were saying.
April 25, 2015
At this point, my AT&T service suddenly drops noticeably. This would become a recurring trend during marches during which there was a police presence.
Jesus traveled to Nazareth, where he had grown up. On the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as he always did, and stood up to read. The book of Isaiah the prophet was given to him. He opened the book and found the place where this is written:
“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,
because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to tell the captives they are free
and to tell the blind that they can see again. (Isaiah 61:1)
God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly (Isaiah 58:6)
and to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness.” (Isaiah 61:2)
Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the assistant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue was watching Jesus closely. He began to say to them, “While you heard these words just now, they were coming true!”
As the speeches continued, it became very clear that many of the speakers were only interested in asserting themselves as leaders rather than honouring Freddie Gray. Malik Shabazz began to rile up the crowd, but some shouted back at him calling for peace. I didn’t know who he was at that point, but I knew he wasn’t from Baltimore and that he hadn’t worked with the local leaders. A lot of people left at that point.
A group splintered off and headed back up Pratt St. to return to the spot Freddie Gray was arrested for a candlelight vigil. I followed them for a short time, then headed north. As a consequence, I missed being present for a key point which changed the city.
On the way back to Gilford Homes, people in bars hurl insults at the protestors. One reporter gets a stool hurled at him from a drunk white girl in a bar.
Fights break out, and eventually, cop cars are smashed.
Many protesters try to prevent people from confronting the police themselves, restraining others.
I call off work and head out in the morning, hearing that various groups are out cleaning up now that the protests have quieted down.
While I was out this morning scraping up burnt garbage to help clean up, a man shoved his camera in my face, and said “Are you INSPIRED by the VIOLENCE here? What made you travel all the way here to help out?” This was my response:
Another reporter from a different station comes up and asks me for an interview. I angrily turn it down and ask them why they haven’t talked to any of the Black residents around me.
A 3rd reporter approaches me as we’re working on the alley. “Will you speak to me?” he asks cautiously, “I’m with the Estonian Public News.” I eye him sceptically. “I heard what you said to the other reporter,” he continues, “I understand. We are interviewing a lot of local people. It is my job to make sure Black and white people are represented. Will you tell me a little about how all these people found out about this?”
That night, a 10 pm curfew is imposed on the city by the mayor. However, the white neighbours and the media out in the Black neighbourhoods ignore the curfew.
A protest happens in front of city hall, I go out.
May 1, 2015
I heard that the 300 Men Match is holding a protest in Park Heights. Hearing many good things about them and watching to join, I head up there.
May 2, 2015
A massive protest rivalling the April 25th protest gathers at City Hall.
A group of head up to protest at the lodge for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police. They have been asking for donations for the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Several activists have been getting GoFundMe and IndieGoGo to shut down pages gathering money (which are against the policies of the site).
My wife Tamika texts me and lets me know they’re giving out food and water to protesters back at City Hall, so I head back down there.
2 Replies to “The Baltimore Uprising: What I saw”
I think you have recorded necessary pieces to help those outside Baltimore to understand these events better. So I want to thank you. There were many striking visual elements. Deray McKesson’s words may summarize at least some aspects of this, “…I know that Freddie Gray will never be back and those windows will be. “
Thanks for reading, Frank!