On April 28th 2015 , myself and about 200 of my peers set out to clean up Baltimore after a horrific night of riots which were sparked after no reasonable justification for the brutal death of Freddie Gray . For 16 days , the city protested , seeking answers to what really happened to Freddie Grey and for his murderer to be taken into custody. With no relief , the anger and frustration spilled into the streets at 3 pm Monday morning. My personal opinion on these matters no longer matter , however , I stand firm on the belief that when pressure is applied , the pipes will burst. The people of Baltimore are saddened by this unfortunate situation and at a time like this , all they need is love , support and guidance on how to seek justice .
And so , we traveled to the area in which the rioting happened and I still cant find the words to describe all of the feelings and emotions to describe that experience . I can see why thousands of students reacted in the way that they did on Monday evening. When you invade someones home with tanks , clubs , shields and guns , you immediately pose a threat that says " I can kill you if I want to" . Is it not bad enough that these kids face systematic poverty and pressures of their environment ? Now , more than ever before, you've instilled a fear so strong into these kids that they don't know where to turn .
My team and I traveled the city , cleaning everything that we seen and talking to everyone we could get a word to . We seen so many stores that were looted and I felt the hurt that store owners and employees must have felt . It was so shocking to see that , although there were 84,000+ students out of school yesterday , we didn't see too many . In addition , almost every family or elder that we ran across said " be safe" . I was so sad to hear those words surprisingly , because I then felt helpless . What is safe ? Why were they so worried about us when this is happening in their backyard. Oh , the heart of a Baltimore citizen. We were given hugs and smiles , greeted with " Go Morgan" and " Can I take a picture of y'all" all day .
After our cleanup was over , a few of us decided to face our biggest fear and stand toe-to-toe with officers as people asked "why" and PEACEFULLY spoke to them. Does that sound like an agitator ? As we approached the scene though , something remarkable happened , hundreds of men and women put their hands up and laid in front of an Army tank which forced the operator to surrender. What happened next ? We put our hands up , chanted " Hand up , Don't shoot" and marched the Tank off of North and Pennsylvania Avenue . Successfully. The crowd rejoiced and I smiled at the acts of unity I seen .
I watched as people danced , sang , passed out food to protesters and cleaned up. The CVS that so many of you seen burn on national television was the hang out spot for news reporters.I heard one reporter say , "this is like a show to them" , no sir this is how they come together as one , this is how WE come together as one. You simply had to be there to understand . The bike clubs did their thing and the half mile long car show with BLACK MEN cheering "No More Violence" nearly brought tears to my eyes. I noticed that most reporters were showing so much that could be wrongly portrayed and I took the initiative to correct where I could. I met two young men who were Baltimore city natives and wore a mask similar to the ones worn in the purge , and as expected cameras were flashing. I stepped up to them one-by-one , accompanied by my sisters and explained that the new reporters needed to see their faces and not the masks. I could imagine how they would have headlined those pictures. As they listened to my words , they removed the masks and I embraced them and told them I loved them and to be safe . I even met a student from a KIPP school in Baltimore who I had the opportunity to talk to . He told me he wanted to go to college and better himself , that immediately put a smile on my face. I assured him that he can do anything , that he is valuable and hugged him because as he turned around his hooded sweatshirt read , " College Bound" .Moments like that can't be caught on camera. If either of you ever read this ,you are valuable beyond measure.
As I looked inside the CVS , I met a few students who were passing out bag lunches and took the opportunity to take a picture with them and tell them 'Thank you' . Although its not my city , Its my home for the next three years and I appreciate the efforts to sustain the unity and strength that is , Baltimore . #BaltimoreStrong