Over 5,000 Students Call For Change From the Top in Baltimore
Baltimore United for Change partners with youth activists organizations in Baltimore to protest police brutality in the city.
ANGEL ELLIOT, REPORTER, TRNN: I’m Angel Elliott for The Real News Network in Baltimore, and behind me as you can see, we have college students and high school students from not only Baltimore but all over Maryland and the country who have come to march for freedom, who have come to march for Black Lives Matter, and justice. They are tired of the status quo.
MAKAYLA GILLIAM-PRICE, STUDENT ORGANIZER: I’m a student organizer from Baltimore City College High School. I founded the organization City Bloc, which is representing all of the high school students here. So we’re just trying to show, a showing of student solidarity at a very young level.
We also have three demands. We’re asking for civilian review board, we’re asking to repeal the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, and we’re also asking that the police officers get off of these reactionary politics and start with a preventative politics so that we’re able to prevent issues like this, and that we have meetings with the communities so that the police officers can be held accountable to the community.
ADAM JACKSON, CEO, LEADERS OF A BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE: We need young people to stand up, we need to show people that people want justice, people are not going to tolerate the system of oppression that black people in Baltimore have been subject to. So we thought it was necessary to lift the voices of the young people and the students who wanted to come out and protest and lift up their voice.
MICHAELA BROWN, STUDENT AND ORGANIZER: It was about ensuring that the students here and the youth voice was safe and protected, and especially with the recent spike in violence. Not just by what you see on TV, but also from officers themselves. So we took it upon ourselves to make sure that there was a secure march route, and we had marshals, medical and legal aid here so that way the people in the crowd were protected.
ELLIOTT: We’re still out here with the protesters who are actually now marching down Saratoga Street. They’re on their way back to Penn Station. They coalesced at City Hall, where they talked about police brutality. They talked about Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Tyrone West. We actually talked to Tyrone West’s sister who faithfully organizes West Wednesdays, and they also have poets, music representation from Baltimore. It’s just a beautiful gathering.
TAWANDA JONES, SISTER OF TYRONE WEST: I didn’t want this to come to our hometown. It’s disgusting to me. That’s why we’ve been out here trying to educate the community and trying to save somebody from going through this cycle of pain that never goes away. I’m actually disgusted.
ELLIOTT: Tell me how you feel seeing these college students and high school students being activists.
JONES: I’m so proud of them. I’m proud because we’ve been in contact–like, Morgan students that walked out, and City High School walked out, so I’m so proud of the young youth. And that’s why we do what we do, to save the young youth from being brutalized and here, right here in Baltimore. It’s actually happening all over the world, but we do what we do just so that we can save a life.
If I could see one thing positive that everybody is coming together with unity. Everybody. Including gang members. Everybody is coming together and that’s so beautiful to me.
COMRADE, RAPPER, ACTIVIST: The music I make, it’s for moments like this. I want to create that soundtrack that should be lived to and a soundtrack that you can fight to, because every movement has that soundtrack that energizes the people, that ignites the people.
BROWN: We had tried to be silenced by the Mayor herself by saying that no matter what was going on, if you didn’t have a permit you could not march, demonstrate, or protest. And so we made it so that these young people could get out here and show solidarity and make sure that the youth voice was heard.
JOHN GILLESPIE JR., STUDENT ACTIVIST: My campus had been silent. My university had been silent. And I’ve heard a big silence to the actual issue that was going on. And we wanted to change that silence and bring a counter-narrative to the story that was being told.
Not only are people engaged, not only are people protesting now, not only are people involved in these politics, they’re having fun doing it. And I think that that’s the mos beautiful thing about it. This is blackness at its best.
KOREY JOHNSON, STUDENT ACTIVIST: It makes me feel like we’re not alone in the struggle. I think John said it best, this is the beginning and the continuation of a beautiful struggle of our people, and I think–you know, it’s just a tale, a testament that all these people showed out because they feel the same things that we feel in our heart.
RALIKH HAYES, STUDENT AND ORGANIZER: This is what love looks like. This is love in visible form, and this is what’s going to take care of our city.
ELLIOTT: At the end of the protest the organizer says, let’s get home safe. There is a curfew, let’s be smart protesters.
For The Real News Network, I’m Angel Elliott.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.