A crowd of protesters took to the streets in East Baltimore on Saturday to proclaim that Black Lives Matter and to show their solidarity with the Asian American community, the second demonstration against police brutality and in support of social justice issues in the city in as many days.
Dozens of people brandished handmade signs, raised fists in the air and spoke with passers-by during the demonstration in front of the Baltimore City Public Schools administration building on East North Avenue. It was one of dozens of rallies that have taken place across the country during a week that has featured more police shootings of people of color and developments in other such cases.
The Black Lives Matter Interfaith Coalition, an activist group whose members have been staging regular social justice demonstrations in the Baltimore area since last summer, organized the event.
As passing drivers honked horns in support of the rally, Ryan Sattler, a co-founder of the coalition, could barely be heard as he sought to tell a reporter why he’d helped plan it.
In an email he sent to coalition members before the rally, though, Sattler cited the “terrible” week of violence against African Americans. He also asked protesters to bring signs in support of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders amid a reported nationwide spike in hate incidents against members of the demographic groups.
On Sunday, a white police officer in Minnesota shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who is Black, during a traffic stop. A video emerged this week of police in Windsor, Virginia, violently arresting Black Army Lt. Caron Nazario in December.
On Monday, police in Chicago shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who is Latino, and final arguments in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer who is facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd, are scheduled for Monday.
“Do you need anymore reason to attend Saturday’s BLACK LIVES MATTER rally?” Sattler wrote.
Tameka Lloyd was one who heeded the call.
Lloyd, a Columbia resident and mother of three, stood with her 12-year-old son, Josiah Wheeler, as he held a sign reading “The Future Is Now” for passers-by to see.
“I’m Black in America and I’m tired of the injustices,” Lloyd said, adding that she wants her children to “live without fear.”
The Black Lives Matter Interfaith Coalition was formed shortly after Floyd’s death at police hands last May when Sattler and about 35 other members of St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in Northeast Baltimore staged a demonstration protest in front of their parish.
Now backed by more than 30 churches, synagogues and social- and racial-justice nonprofits, the coalition has drawn crowds numbering in the hundreds to rallies against police brutality at high-visibility locations across the city, including a caravan of nearly 100 cars it led through Baltimore on Martin Luther King Day.
Grace Byerly joined the group early on because she said she sees two standards for policing in America.
Police brutality against Black Americans has been been tolerated far too long, the 78-year-old Northeast Baltimore resident said Saturday, and would never be accepted in white neighborhoods.
Byerly, who is white, said too many people act like “white lives matter more than others” and said it’s incumbent on people that look like her to demand for change.
”We are all precious, we are all special,” she said.
After Toni Moore-Duggan, 71, a congregant at Saint Ignatius Church and the chair of its racial justice committee, led the group in a prayer ― ”We know that you [God] created each of us and our diversity is your joy,” she said — Jordan Casper, a Harford County musician and videographer, led the crowd in a chant.
”Black Lives Matter!” protesters yelled.
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The demonstration — which followed a rally in front of Baltimore City police headquarters that spilled into Harbor East Friday night — was one of many that have taken place during a resurgence of protests against bigotry and perceived brutality toward African Americans and other people of color.
About 500 protesters rallied outside police headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Friday night, the sixth straight night of demonstrations in the Minneapolis suburb where Wright lost his life when, police say, a white officer shot him with a pistol she mistook for a Taser. Some in the crowd set off fireworks and hurled bottles at police.
About a thousand people rallied in Chicago on Friday night over Toledo’s shooting, which occurred early Monday in the city’s Little Village neighborhood, a predominantly Latino community, after authorities were alerted to possible shots fired nearby.
Police in multiple cities, including Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, say they’re bracing for possible protests after an expected verdict in the Chauvin trial next week.
Lloyd, the Columbia mother, said that the fight for racial justice can feel lonely and daunting at times but that such demonstrations can have a positive impact.
On Saturday, she called it encouraging to be part of a crowd as ethnically diverse as it was passionate to bring about justice.
“Maybe we’ll see a change,” she said.