As a white person, I am struggling with the question of my own relevance in the face of recent events in Baltimore. Paraphrasing No Boundaries, “Voices of those most directly affected by this on-going crisis should be heard.” Not to mention the thousands of photographs being uploaded to social media, how does my work signify? But photography is what I do and we all capture special moments. And as for relevance, as a human being, it was necessary to add my voice to others decrying the injustices affecting communities and individuals in Baltimore.
It was important to document the events on Friday. It had only been a few hours since we’d received the news that six officers had been charged. The mood was exultant. We hadn’t forgotten the continuing anguish, the complexities, the factions, the challenges ahead; but we’d made a significant step forward toward justice. I joined the Pots and Pans March to City Hall. We joined with others attending the CASA rally. This was an inclusive, diverse crowd with those directly affected, the Jewish community, Lutheran clergy, artists/activists, and more. I kept seeing friends and we’d fall into each other’s arms.
City Hall was a Big Media encampment and the startling pristine quality of it contrasted sharply with the walk we were undertaking through underprivileged neighborhoods. Geraldo Rivera met with jeers and boos and we know he feeds off of that kind of attention, but I couldn’t help laughing when I heard, “Geraldo Rivera, come and kiss my rear-ah!” There was a huge police presence and it was difficult to read. They looked tired or was it angry? Maybe they were expecting outbursts of over-excited vindication or maybe they needed to bolster a showing for their own who had been implicated. Each individual would have to speak to that. All I know is that we need to work together to fix things. There were purification ceremonies, women burning sage as they passed police lines. I hope they heed the gesture.
There were other sobering and cheering moments. We marched past the detention center and we could hear voices from the other side of the walls cheering us on. That only brought consideration of the factors that lead to high incarceration rates in neighborhoods such as Sandtown-Winchester. As we continued, people leaned out of windows and danced on stoops, joining in, “What do we want?” “Justice!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”
Lynne Parks is a Baltimore-based photographer and activist.