Riot Police Confront Mourners of Slain Baltimore Rapper Lor Scoota

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Residents and Democratic mayoral nominee Catherine Pugh condemn the militarized police response to the largely peaceful vigil for the beloved Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota

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KWAME ROSE, TRNN: It was one murder among hundreds in a city that has grown accustomed to violence. But the death of Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota touched a nerve among the people of the city.

SPEAKER: I feel like it’s, it’s unbelievable, man. It hurt me when it happened, like man, Scoota started out right here on the avenue, shooting our own videos. He used to come out to my house every day.

ROSE: He was shot shortly after leaving a charity basketball game aimed at quelling violence, a cruel irony that prompted hundreds to gather a few blocks from Penn North to honor his memory and speak out against the constant loss of life that has plagued a community still reeling from the killing of Freddie Gray in police custody last year.

After a record of 344 murders in 2015, Lor Scoota’s murder put the city on pace to surpass 250 this year.

SPEAKER: They took the recreations from us. Then they’re locking up our young black youth for no apparent reason. Killing our young black youth. And they want to know why our young black youth is acting the way they’re acting. Because they took everything from us.

SPEAKER: Baltimore is really a death trap, for real, for real. Because they ain’t doing nothing for the kids, they’re not opening no centers, none of that for nobody. So it’s just like, I might be selling drugs, because nobody [can get] no job, or nothing like that.

SPEAKER: [Inaud.] stop all this killing. Let this be a lesson. He can live on if his message [inaud.]. Don’t be a shooter. Be a Scoota.

ROSE: Among them was Democratic mayoral nominee Catherine Pugh. She joined mourners after they sung and danced in tribute to Scoota, a young man who had already made his mark on the city with both his music and his activism.

But the mood changed later in the evening when police showed up in full riot gear to confront what was a peaceful gathering–a move that angered Pugh.

CATHERINE PUGH: Communities should be allowed to grieve, and every situation when people gather is not a situation that calls for riot gear.

I think we’ve got a long way to go in terms of just improving police and community relations, but what we do know is that there was nonviolent demonstrations. Even the police commissioner said at the end of the day that for the most part this was very nonviolent, and this was really a celebration of a life of a rapper who had been very out front in Baltimore talking about how to move our youth in the right direction.

ROSE: The police defended their actions, saying they were attacked with rocks and bottles. Mourners called the response unnecessary, and emblematic of a town that favors policing over community solutions, and emphasis on the people that Scoota, both the artist and the man [in body], say the people who knew him best.

SPEAKER: When the police here right now, we letting them be here, yo. We could have been got them out of here. We letting them be here right now.

REPORTER: The police.

SPEAKER: Yeah, we letting them. We letting them watch us. We ain’t doing–.

REPORTER: Do they feel like they keep you safe?

SPEAKER: No.

ROSE: Another lost voice in a city that refuses to remain quiet.

I’m Kwame Rose, and this is the Real News.

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