Five Years After Freddie Gray Riots, Baltimore is the Model of Peaceful Protesting

Baltimore, Maryland – The streets of Baltimore bled with rage just five years ago after the death of a young black man, Freddie Gray, in the back of a police vehicle. Now, as violent rioting and looting own the night in several cities across the nation, Baltimore emerged as the beacon of peaceful protesting. 

As the afternoon sky turned to dusk on Monday, hundreds of protesters converged near the Baltimore Convention Center to march through the city with calls for justice for George Floyd, who was brutally killed by a police officer last week in Minneapolis. The protest, organized by young, local activists included representatives of Black Lives Matter and others advocating for an end to police brutality. 

The protesters burgeoned from hundreds to thousands as they marched through downtown on their way to City Hall. Baltimore City Police kept a respectful distance with an ever-mindful eye out for signs of violence. Cries of "No Justice, No Peace!" were almost deafening as some protestors moved from downtown to Baltimore City Detention Center on Eager St. There, inmates heard the cries of the protestors and some Baltimore police officers knelt on one knee with fists in the air in solidarity with the crowd. 

Over the weekend, images of burning police cars and smashed storefronts from multiple cities commanded headline news. None of those images came from Baltimore, where protesters abstained from violence and disorder almost entirely. Over the weekend, just over a dozen arrests were made in Baltimore with a few reports of looting and some broken windows. Over that same period, more than 200 people were arrested in Philadelphia. 

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