MLK's Niece: Baltimore Mayor's Invitation 'Unbelievable'
Dr. Alveda King has written an open letter reaching out to the mayor of Baltimore regarding the attacks against police officers protesting the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died in police custody April 19 under unclear circumstances.
Saturday, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake admitted she wanted to give space to those "who wished to destroy."
"I've made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech," Rawlings-Blake said during a press conference Saturday night. "It's a very delicate balancing act, because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well."
"Your invitation to 'give space for those who want to destroy; is unbelievable. This interpretation of rights to free speech is dangerous Ma'am," King wrote in response to the mayor's statement. "In 1963, my father Rev. AD King, after the firebombing of our home in Birmingham, Alabama, urged hostile protestors to abandon violence and turn to God in prayer instead."
"Thank God they listened to him, and the even greater voice of his brother, my Uncle MLK, during those turbulent days. Now, you are inviting violence to your city? Who, Ma'am, will incur the moral and economic costs of picking up the pieces? The innocent taxpayers?" she asked.
Monday afternoon, the Baltimore Police Department said it had received a "credible threat" that gangs were teaming up to "take out" officers. Following Freddie Gray's funeral, police clashed with protestors, leaving several officers injured.
"This afternoon, a group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers. Right now, we have seven officers that have serious injuries, including broken bones, and one officer who is unconscious," Capt. Eric Kowalczyk told reporters.
"This is not OK," Kowalczyk said. "You're going to see tear gas. You're going to see pepper balls. We're going to use appropriate methods to ensure that we're able to preserve the safety of that community."
There were no immediate reports of injuries among the protesters.
The Rev. Jamal Bryant, delivering the eulogy at Freddie Gray's funeral, spoke of the plight of poor, young black men like Mr. Gray, confined to "the box of thinking all black men are thugs and athletes and rappers."
Bryant said that African Americans must take control of their lives and force the police and government to change.
"Get your black self up and change this city," he said. "I don't know how you can be black in America and be silent. With everything we've been through, ain't no way in the world you can sit here and be silent in the face of injustice."