Student Voices Focus on Frustration in Baltimore

Students on Baltimore campuses shared their thoughts on the protests in the city—and the events that inspired them.

Kellye Beathea, graduating law student, University of Baltimore School of Law

Wednesday evening, I participated in the march from Penn Station to City Hall in support of obtaining justice for Freddie Gray and countless others who have fallen victim to police brutality in Baltimore City.

050115_ProtestThis is more than just Freddie Gray. This is also more than police brutality reform. This movement is about how our times of lament have been wholly disregarded solely based on skin color; therefore, what would have been a full five-step process of grief has been halted at only one: anger. We can’t get out of the stage of anger, because the same foolishness keeps happening. And people may express their emotions in different ways, but it’s still anger nonetheless.

You want to know what scares me more than the unorganized protesting outside?

The attorneys and soon-to-be attorneys of Maryland who don’t realize that there’s unorganized protesting outside. Those who can legitimize a riot when their beloved Terps lose to Duke for the umpteenth time but can vehemently condemn those living in a city where the suffocating frustration of being intelligent and poor is reaching epidemic levels.

What I participated in this week was an example of controlled anger. What the world has witnessed in the past few days was an example of uncontrolled anger. While the rally this week was more socially accepted, rest assured that people can only control their anger for so long before they to shift into the socially unacceptable category.

I have seen both sides of this personally. I have had family members who were cops, and I have had friends who have been brutally beaten by Baltimore city police. It all sucks, but I have to see both sides. This isn’t about politics for me; this is about people! Right now, people are hurting, and it’s because of politics. What you see on TV right now is what it looks like when the unheard can’t take anymore pain. Unfortunately, the unheard are children who truly don’t know any better, for a slew of reasons.

But the point here is that children are hurting. Not thugs. Not animals. Children. Now these kids will pay for their actions, but will they be counseled? Will they be taught a new lesson? Or will they just be caged?

This is more than justice. How could they do this in the name of justice, if their entire premise is that justice does not exist? This isn’t a response to justice; this is a child’s response to the lack of Justice. And if the only way they learned how to respond to violence is to react with violence, the footage is just an example of a well-executed street/school lesson. Is it right? Nope. Do I get it? Yup.

There is no time like the present to change the politically accepted, but socially unacceptable notion that Black lives do not matter. This is the core as to why we are lamenting. It is my contention that a change in perception and policy—to indicate that Black lives do matter—is the only way we can shift our minds into the next stage of the grieving process.

Alegrah Miller, freshman, Morgan State University

As a freshman, you want to be involved in all sorts of events going on, on campus and off, like city-wide events. Along with my other classmates and peers from Morgan State University, I first involved myself by protesting the [Ferguson, Mo.] grand jury’s decision not to indict [officer Darren] Wilson for shooting Michael Brown.

Sometimes we fall short of doing our research, but only stand up for justice of Black people and fail to realize what actually took place. The protest was a wonderful experience and a way to see the Baltimore community come together for a common goal and lead a positive protest. That experience showed me that it is possible [to come together peacefully], so why now with the Freddie Gray situation can’t we do the same thing? Why are we rioting and looting rather than simply protesting?

I feel as though our voices and opinions cannot be heard because of how we’re presenting our positions. The people don’t just want to protest, but want answers. How can you expect [protesters] to listen to the police’s needs and wants when they aren’t listening to the protesters? They want to know why Freddie Gray was killed!

The media always twists and turns the events around, but we as people can only believe what we see and hear. Therefore, give us the full story and explain the video, while keeping those officers safe as well. As students, it causes us to be distracted, get off task, and drift off focus due to the events happening around our campus. As I’m living on campus, I began to build a negative opinion toward Baltimore and often find myself scared along with my other peers. It’s never a problem with expressing how one feels, but it’s the way you do it. There’s no way to be heard by being obnoxious, but being civil and serious [gets you noticed].