For the 10th straight day, demonstrators gathered across the Baltimore region for protests incited by the death of George Floyd. Sunday’s protests included multiple neighborhoods that have been historically white, as a multi-racial coalition of demonstrators expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death has sparked protests and unrest across the country and in nations around the world.
Khan Umar, a Hampden resident, leads demonstrators in holding their hands behind their heads to signify the time George Floyd was held by police.
More than 200 people flooded The Avenue in Hampden outside St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to protest the police and racial inequality.
Members of the crowd, which was mostly white, shouted for black people to come forward and share their stories and to have their voices heard. With The Avenue shut down, various signs dotted the street with messages like “PoC are made in the image of Christ,” “End white silence,” and “Black lives matter.”
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Jim Muratore, said he helped organize the protest with several other community members. He plans to continue to have various events and programs to help educate people about racial injustices and to advocate for change.
Muratore, who is white, said bringing events to the neighborhood is important not only to show that Hampden is an ally, but because the neighborhood is predominantly white and has had a history of stark racism.
“People are actually dying,” Muratore said. “We have to keep trying. We have to keep stumbling. I am woefully uneducated, and that’s my fault, but we can’t ignore this and we have to start somewhere.”
Umar Khan, a Hampden resident, led demonstrators in holding their hands behind the heads for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Jamel Cole, 31, said he was crying right before he came out to protest.
“To see us come together and know that this is bigger than ourselves — I want this to stay in our hearts,” the Windsor Mill resident said.
The crowd responded to Cole, yelling that he matters and “Black lives matter.”
Baltimore Police blocked off intersections for the hundreds who waved signs while walking in Locust Park toward Latrobe Park.
“It was really emotional,” said Dasia Kabia, co-owner of Ice Queen’s, a recently opened snowball shop at the corner of Fort Avenue and Andre Street. “It was so encouraging to see the people in the neighborhood get together and stand for something that I so strongly believe in. I can’t put it into the words and the community I come from to see support and allies.”
Kabia, a 22-year-old black woman, said she was struck by the racial makeup of the crowd — largely white. Protesters took a knee across the street from her shop to honor Floyd.
“I haven’t seen this in my life,” Kabia said. “I haven’t seen white people be aware of the impact they have on someone who looks like me in my life every day. So being able to finally see that ownership of that, that responsibility — I didn’t think that I would see that.”
A demonstration Sunday morning in the Anneslie, Rodgers Forge and Stoneleigh communities of Towson brought together close to 1,000 protesters. Protesters, organized by Dumbarton Middle School seventh-grader Drew Altemos, 13, lined up on both sides of York Road, spanning about six blocks.
Another demonstration in Baltimore, also a youth-led protest, marched down Gay Street chanting Floyd’s name and “No justice, no peace.” After gathering at the Baltimore Convention Center, the protesters marched down Pratt Street to Calvert Street, where they knelt and prayed before proceeding to the War Memorial. The group was led by a police escort.
The youth protest was organized by 18 local clergy members headed by Rev. Mark Montgomery and Rev. Rashad Singletary.
City Council President and mayoral candidate Brandon Scott, who has appeared at multiple protests, was in attendance and urged the crowd to work together for change.
Rev. Donald Wright, pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church, read the names of more than two dozen African American men and women who were killed in the past few years nationwide by police officers, from Michael Brown to Freddie Gray.
“No justice,” he began.
“No peace,” the crowd responded.
Courtney Epps brought her two young sons, Zyien, 10, and Zayden, 5 to the War Memorial from their home in Owings Mills because she wanted them to experience a peaceful protest for themselves.
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
“They see the violent protests on TV,” she said. “I want them to know that it’s possible to come together as a community in prayer to achieve change.”
Her eldest son said it felt good to stand up to injustice. “The police have been killing people they weren’t supposed to kill,” said Zyien, who is in the fourth grade. “The police are supposed to be protecting us.”
More than 1,000 people showed up to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for a walk in downtown Annapolis. Mayor Gavin Buckley to Del. Shaneka Henson, an Annapolis Democrat, spoke. Henson said it was the first march she went to since Floyd’s death, saying she had a hard time reconciling everything that has happened. She encouraged attendees to step outside of their comfort zones.
“If you have not felt uncomfortable at least once today, I would challenge if you are doing this right,” she said. “Everybody that does this work from a place of being genuine has lost something.”
And in Edgewater, a separate smaller, predominately white protest brought a few hundred people on a walk that ended at the Anne Arundel County Southern District police station.