The struggle to control the narrative of Saturday’s protests is part of a much longer struggle for control over the narratives of marginalized individuals and communities in the United States. After hours of more than a thousand marching from Gilmor Homes to the Western District police station, to rally at City Hall, with no incident, a seemingly spontaneous march to Camden Yards during a baseball game triggered a series of events whose timeline journalists are still piecing together from video footage.
Many organizers at the forefront of the protests are women, and many members of the Gilmor Homes community with key involvement in the protests are very young people. On Saturday, women marshaled the march along, maintaining energy, leading chants from megaphones, and even ensuring that a female member of Freddie Gray's family, who joined the march in her wheelchair, was able to stay on the front lines.
Tawanda Jones has long endured the repercussions of false narratives since she became an activist after the 2013 death of her brother, Tyrone West, 44, following a beating by Baltimore police officers. From attempting every available legal outlet to ensure a transparent investigation into her brother's death, to being misquoted by Fox 45's Melinda Roeder during a rally, Jones has firsthand experience that still affects her daily life. Doctored footage from a televised segment in which Fox 45 misquoted the chant "We can't stop/ We won't stop/ Till killer cops/ Are in cell blocks" as "We can't stop/ We won't stop/ So kill a cop" has caused Jones to receive multiple anonymous threats that continue to this day, along with repeated damage to her vehicle and inability to safely go about her day alone.
Qiara Butler, who works with members of Baltimore Bloc and other groups under the umbrella coalition of B'more United for Change, said that she became an activist after Tyrone West, her cousin, died: "My family . . . we're mostly women, and we fight. We fight for what we feel is justice. We've gone through every avenue of government, and have had our requests and demands turned down. We're hoping that, with Freddie Gray's case, something develops and that justice trickles down to all those in the city affected by police brutality."