Roland Martin was on the ground in Baltimore last night at the Empowerment Temple to join activists, pastors, imams and priests as well as the community to promote healing after protests turned violent Monday night.
Due to the efforts of those pastors and others in the community, an imposed curfew in Baltimore was mostly observed. During that time, a group of young people and other community members, aided by former NAACP head Ben Jealous was also trained in the practices of civil disobedience, something that went on during the civil rights protests of the 50’s and 60’s as well.
However, this video of the live on CNN arrest of Baltimore-based activist Joseph Kent went viral. (Kent has been processed and is OK.)
“#OneBaltimore is all about bringing Baltimore together. It was a moment of healing and a wonderful night,” Baltimore pastor and activist Jamal Bryant said. “The training was so critical. We had just put it on Twitter two hours before the event and to have that many people was amazing.”
“We can make a concerted effort to keep registering people to vote. This Sunday will be the largest demonstration in the history of this movement. All 2,000 churches will be outside of City Hall. We know how to demonstrate in peace. We know how to carry ourselves and we know how to keep the main thing the main thing. One of the main issues is making a demand for economic development.
It’s larger than just six police officers. What are we going to do about a city where 60% where the people in this zip code are on public assistance? We’re doing a holistic movement that we hope will be a template for urban America.”
Bryant has already seen the results of his efforts.
A story of a young Baltimore woman, aired live on CNN, who could not get cooperation from her high school guidance counselor to get a recommendation letter has a happy ending. Bryant says that Mount St. Mary’s University has offered the woman a place in their freshman class for the fall.
“You have no idea what this impact is going to be as we move forward one person at a time,” says Bryant.
As happened in Ferguson, other people stepped up to help those impacted by the unrest. Martin says a group of women from Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority helped some elderly residents impacted by the destruction of a neighborhood CVS. They came in to help transport the elderly to other pharmacies to get their medications as well as helped to prepare meals for them.
“A group of Black businessmen, 50 of them, came out yesterday and led the charge of cleanup,” says Bryant. “They had young brothers with them. It’s really a pictures of a phoenix rising from the ashes. We are wiping off all of the smudge and returning Baltimore City to the Charm City we know it can be.”
As for what we can go going forward, Bryant asks that on social media, people use the hashtag #OneBaltimore in discussions about the city. He also asks that citizens in and out of Maryland reform the officer right’s bill, that gives police more rights than citizens. (Baltimore has paid out over $5 million in settlements to people for police brutality incidents in just the last four years.)
The body cameras bill was vetoed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake but was scheduled to be revisited in December. There is a move to make it happen by June 1.
Findings in the Gray case are due Friday, but Bryant says those results may not be announced until Monday.
Sunday’s protest is scheduled for 3 p.m. at City Hall.
To reach Pastor Jamal Bryant you can email him at email@example.com or go to the website for Empowerment Temple HERE.
Click the link above to hear the entire interview.