An Open Letter to the Citizens of Baltimore

To the people of Baltimore,

When knowledge of Freddie Gray’s death, at the hands of Baltimore police hit the streets, YOU were there. YOU stood peacefully and protested against another one of our unarmed brothers being killed by law enforcement. YOU did not back down. YOU continued to fight against a system that has been set up to see us fail. When tensions rose, YOU were there. YOU fought against the silent voice that Blacks have in this world. YOU continued to hold your ground as they defamed you and called you “thugs.” With violence and death staring you in the face, as the National Guard stood their ground, it was YOU who would not back down. YOU refused to let this continue. YOU wanted the world to see the pain, the injustice. Too many lives have been lost for trivial matters, while others yet still breathe. YOU screamed out, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”, through tear gas and a barrage of rubber bullets. It was YOU who put pressure on the system and ultimately, got these officers charged. Something that would not have happened if YOU were not there. Doing the footwork. Day in and day out. As a young Black woman, my heart swells with pride as I think about what has happened today. My people…my young Black people…YOU DID IT! YOU did not wait for the hierarchy of Black leaders to come and lead you. YOU lead yourselves. YOU organized with each other and stood together. This is what we need to continue to do. Everyone has a role they can play. YOU have shown others that the youth are not a bunch of mindless “thugs.” We are more than that. We are people who have been hurt, time and time again. To the rioters, even though no one else will say it, I thank you. Yes, violence is wrong. Yes, rioting is wrong. BUT, who am I to tell a victim how to react? Who am I to tell someone how to express their emotions? YOU have opened a door for discussion for the root of the problem. YOU have been peaceful and they still have killed us. YOU have been marching and bringing in new laws and they still use it against us. Body cams were a joke, a slap in the face. If there were no riots, there would be no attention. No one was there when YOU were protesting this peacefully. Rioting may be wrong, BUT I am more concerned with the action that caused the riots. I will not blame YOU for reacting to a horrible act. YOU elected a beautiful, strong, Black queen in a position to serve her people. YOU showed others how small elections matter. Today, was the beginning of justice. The fact that it is a shock that these officers are being arrested is the very reason why we must continue this movement. YOU have given us hope…the black community. Because of YOU and YOUR actions, the movement lives on. There is promise. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every person in Baltimore who did not give up when they said go home. Who did not stay inside because of a ridiculous curfew. Who did not become broken when they began to hurl rocks, but fought back. Who decided that this is the time for people to truly realize our lives matter. My people…my young Black people…I thank YOU!

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