Days ago after hearing about the circumstances surrounding the death of Freddie Gray while in Baltimore City Police custody and seeing the aftermath unfold right in my back yard, I decided to get involved. I felt compelled to get involved as a photojournalist. I couldn’t let such a historical event happen blocks away from me and not go document it. While the first few days of protests were going on, unfortunately I had prior commitments and I could get out and shoot.
The first chance I got was on Wednesday evening as the demonstrators marched from the Baltimore City Police Department’s Western District to City Hall. When I arrived on the scene at City Hall I was just trying to get up to speed with what was unfolding. A few interesting things happened, but before I knew it, it was over. With a large rally at City Hall planned for Thursday I decided I would be there from start to finish.
I arrived early and photographed as religious leaders spoke in front of City Hall. The crowd grew and after the speakers were finished the demonstrators took to the streets once again. They converged on downtown, up through Federal Hill and then began the trek back to west Baltimore to the Police Station. Up until then the participants had been relatively peaceful. Once they started heading for the Western District things began to get heated. As the crowd came upon a police car in the road on Pratt Street protestors laid down on the hood with one climbing on the car and standing up. On another occasion protestors swarmed another cop car as two officers sat inside. Eventually the crowd moved on.
Police formed a line of officers attempting to block off MLK Ave. Protestors began to push forward and although the police originally provided resistance, the order was eventually given to let the protestors pass. Further west, now on Pennsylvania avenue the cops converged on the crowd. The police immediately apprehended the young man who previously jumped on the hood of the police car. As the police formed a line to contain the protestors things got physical and another young man was arrested.
I was right in the mix when everything was happening. Emotions were high again once the crowd ended up at the Western District Police Station, where citizens confronted police who stood guard outside the building. I’m so glad I made the decision to cover these events. I hope by sharing my images, more attention can be brought to this issue and changes can be made. This isn’t a political blog so I’m going to keep it light on opinion, but regardless of the circumstances, a young man died. Yes, he may have had a troubled past…yes, he may have ran from police, but he didn’t deserve to die this way.