CHICAGO (CBS) — An activist pastor from Chicago has traveled to Baltimore, hoping to help calm the situation there in any way possible, in the wake of riots following the funeral of a black man who died in police custody.
Meantime, demonstrators in Chicago were planning their own protest march for Tuesday night.
Rev. Corey Brooks, of New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn, landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Tuesday, to assist Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Freddie Gray’s family church. Gray died of spinal cord injuries earlier this month, a week after he was arrested when he ran away after running into police officers on the street. Authorities in Baltimore have not said how or when he suffered his injuries.
Rioting started in West Baltimore on Monday, after Gray’s funeral, and the National Guard was called in to help police quell the violence. Authorities in Baltimore have said at least 15 police officers were hurt, 14 vehicles were set on fire, 15 buildings were burned, and nearly 200 people were arrested. The city has imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, and Baltimore public schools were closed Tuesday.
Hundreds of National Guard troops and Maryland state troopers in full riot gear were patrolling the streets of Baltimore after rioters took aim at police Wednesday, frustrated no one has been charged in Gray’s death.
The situation in Baltimore was calm Tuesday morning, as residents came out to clean up broken glass and other debris left behind after the violent protests.
Gray’s mysterious death in police custody has become the latest focus of a nationwide debate over the use of police force against African American suspects.
Brooks said he was visiting Baltimore to encourage peaceful protests, condemn the riots, and learn from what’s happening there so he can be prepared if a similar situation were to arise in Chicago.
“We just landed in Baltimore, and we’re on our way to Empowerment Temple, to the neighborhood where a lot of things are going on, to help Pastor Jamal Bryant bring about justice and peace,” Brooks said. “We’re here in Baltimore just to learn what to do. … If anything like this were to ever happen in Chicago, we want to be prepared. As a matter of fact, we hope that it never happens.”
Meantime, in Chicago, local activists planned a protest rally of their own Tuesday evening. The Black Youth Project and several other groups were planning a “solidarity demonstration” outside Chicago Police Department headquarters in Bronzeville at 6 p.m.
“Too many names have been turned into hashtags. What is happening in Baltimore is not an isolated event. This did not start today, or yesterday or last month or with Ferguson or with Rodney King,” the Black Youth Project said in an announcement of the protest rally. “You cannot critique how black people and people of color deal with the anguish, the frustration, the trauma, the death we experience every day at the hands of the state, especially if you have never joined in the fight to end this oppression.”
Several hundred demonstrators were expected to show up for the rally. They planned to call for the firing of Officer Dante Servin, who was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of Rekia Boyd, an unarmed black woman.
Boyd and a group of people were hanging out in Douglas Park in March 2012 when Servin, angry about noise they were making, got into a shouting match with a man in the group. Prosecutors have said Servin fired five shots over his shoulder from inside his car, striking Boyd in the head, and grazing another person in the group.
Servin has said he opened fire because he thought he saw someone coming at him with a gun, although investigators found only a cellphone at the scene.
The judge in Servin’s trial said he had no choice but to acquit Servin of involuntary manslaughter, because his actions were deliberate, not reckless, and suggested prosecutors should have charged Servin with murder.
The city paid Boyd’s family $4.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013.