Civility, activism and education as Baltimore marks sixth night of protests with peaceful reflection. And food.
The sixth day of demonstrations began in a uniquely low key Baltimore way with a longtime activist and barbecue cook Duane “Shorty” Davis cooking for a crowd.
Davis called it an “Art and Activism” event, an avenue for members of the community to eat, showcase art and ultimately talk about racism in America.
“Today we’re going to practice civility. We’re going to practice education. We’re going to practice entertainment. And we’re going to practice fellowship,” Davis said, taking a break from grilling meat.
As his event ended, several hundred protesters began assembling around him near City Hall and another group began marching miles away on Reisterstown Road in Baltimore County near Franklin High School. Two other protests, one in Harford County in the afternoon and a second on Reisterstown Road near Northern Parkway later in the evening showed that the movement started after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week showed no signs of being over. Thousands of people of all ages and races have taken to the streets across the country, saying they would continue until leaders addressed both structural racism and police violence.
At Wednesday’s City Hall event, speakers, including Wesley Hawkins, an activist who runs a mentoring program, spoke to hundreds of protesters, stressing the need to hold elected officials accountable. The demonstration was organized by a number of groups focused on city youth.
Hawkins said he invited multiple officials, including Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, but they had not arrived by 6:30 p.m.
A group of about 25 people stood outside Franklin High school and, despite the warm temperatures, marched down Reisterstown Rd to advocate for justice. Car horns honked as the group, composed mostly of young people, shouted “justice for George Floyd” and waved signs.
Kai Smith said he found out about the student-led protest on Instagram.
The Temple University rising sophomore said he’s “sick and tired” of racial inequalities and police targeting black people.“This has been going on for too long,” the 18-year-old said. “We want justice.”
At a press conference earlier in the afternoon Hogan again praised the city for its largely peaceful protests. “We’re one of the only cities in America that didn’t have lots of violence,” Hogan said, adding that having protesters working with police to quell violence showed “quite a bit of trust.”
Hogan said the U.S. Secretary of Defense had called him directly to speak about using the military in response to protests in Maryland. “He did not want to utilize mobilize the military and I agreed with him.” Hogan said 1300 National Guard members had been mobilized during the COVID-19 crisis and said the federal government asked if they could fill in for the park service.
“They are now patrolling our nation’s monuments,” Hogan said, “They were there last night.”
At the Harford County Courthouse in Bel Air about 200 people gathered at 1 p.m., for a peaceful demonstration. Speakers called for changes in the fractured relationship between police and the African American community across the nation as the crowd chanted.
Across the street, sheriff’s office employees watched from their headquarters building. Protesters later crossed the street and stopped at the Sheriff’s Office entrance, just before a line of yellow tape. A few people shouted and cursed while the majority of the protesters called for police officials to “take a knee” in solidarity with them. The chief talked to one demonstrator but did not respond to the protesters demands and walked back inside as the crowed booed.