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  July 6, 2016

Killing of Baltimore Rapper Draws Attention to Gun Violence, Lack of Opportunity

TRNN speaks to Baltimore residents, pastor Jamal Bryant, and Green Party mayoral candidate Joshua Harris about the path forward after the shooting of Lor Scoota
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KWAME ROSE, TRNN: Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota was laid to rest Friday as hundreds of friends and fans gathered to say goodbye. Fans say they will remember Scoota as a peace advocate and a man who touched the hearts of many before he was ultimately gunned down in Northeast Baltimore in broad daylight last week.

We're here to speak to some of the hundreds here on [inaud.] Avenue in West Baltimore to celebrate his life.

SPEAKER 1: Peace, Scoota, West Side legend. Shorty, we love you, baby. We're out here. You brought the city out, /dɑːmi/. Look around.

I think it's tragic what happened to the young man and all this, that, now because he come down on the city. And God be with Kwame. And he always doing positive stuff. So it's just sad to see stuff like this happen. We need to unite, come together some type.

SPEAKER 2: Now it's just moving forward. We've got to get up.

The city is mourning right now. We're mourning on a whole 'nother level right now. That's our family right there. He was the voice of the streets. We are the streets. You know?

So it's about moving forward now. We can't just go around here killing people because they killed our brother.

ROSE: The death of Lor Scoota has prompted questions of the root causes of the epidemic of violence in the city, which many say is a direct result of a lack of opportunities and economic development.

SPEAKER 3: These kids that ain't got mothers, put them in programs, give playgrounds, recess centers, things that can help the kids and motivate the kids, you feel me, to stay in school.

Scoota, he was a motivational speaker. He did a lot of things for these kids, like he'd go to schools, read books to them.

ROSE: In eulogizing Scoota, Reverend Jamal Bryant addressed the economic inequalities and social roadblocks that trap many young black men like him. Alluding to the body armor and nightsticks which greeted mourners during a vigil earlier this week, Bryant railed at the continued influence of policing in politics, which define a community which knows little else.

REV. JAMAL BRYANT, EMPOWERMENT TEMPLE AME CHURCH: I understand you only want to get riled up. And I wish the police would come in riot gear and surround Annapolis where the real looters are, where they will take money away from Baltimore public schools but don't mind building new prisons for your sons and for your brothers to live in.

ROSE: He also took aim at Under Armour, calling into question the wisdom of a proposed half-billion dollar tax break to develop Port Covington when young men like Scoota are dying in the streets of Baltimore, which sit in despair, abandoned and forgotten.

BRYANT: I wish the police officers would surround the real rioters outside of Under Armour that would in fact develop just one part of town and act as if Cherry Hill doesn't exist and the people who made Baltimore don't deserve an opportunity to live.

ROSE: One elected official, Councilman Nick Mosby, was present. Green Party candidate for mayor Joshua Harris, who was in attendance, said politicians haven't addressed the gap between the city's haves and have-nots.

JOSHUA HARRIS, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: So understanding how that connects directly to the policy decisions that are made in our city is extremely important. Understand that we're talking about giving half a billion dollars to Port Covington to build a new playground for wealthy people in the other side of the harbor while we have East and West Baltimore, where our children go to school every day without heat in the wintertime, they can't drink the water, and they don't have air conditioning in the summertime. So what does that say about their work, to add on top of what they're living with when they go home and leave the school? That's something that definitely needs to be addressed.

ROSE: Harris was one of the community members who helped calm tensions between police and community at Monday night's vigil. He said negotiations have been underway to ensure a similar response is not carried out at the block party scheduled later in the day.

HARRIS: I know that the riot police won't be showing up today, because there's been a coalition of community members that have been working hard to mediate between the police and the community to make sure that we give the space for community members to mourn and to celebrate the life and legacy of Scoota.

ROSE: From Baltimore, this Kwame Rose.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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