Dear Baltimore, I Am Your Child

Dear Baltimore,

I am your child. I am a product of your society. I was born on your soil and raised in your communities. I was educated by your system and taught by your adversities. I've walked your streets and stood on your corners. You are my home.

Today, I share in your pain. I echo your frustration and I acknowledge your outrage. The tears from your misery have flooded the hearts of our citizens, and now I must watch as you illustrate your anger.

I can't say that I don't understand. I can't say that this wasn't expected.

You're tired of being silent. You're fed up with being mistreated. You refuse to carry the heartache of burying another one of your children, considering you've already lost more than you can accurately count. The city has tried to pay for your censorship, buy back your trust and bribe your understanding.

But there's no amount of money they can offer that'll refund a life.

We are all mourning the loss of our dear brother Freddie Gray, who died on April 19, 2015, for doing nothing more than trying to avoid the merciless actions that ultimately resulted in his death. Sadly, he knew what to expect. He feared what we all fear and that's why he ran.

I'm not here to project the perfection of his life, but regardless of his past there is nothing that will justify the reason for his death. Changes need to be made in order to safeguard our men, women and children from injustice -- not just in Baltimore but nationwide. Policies need to be enacted to prevent innocent lives from being ruthlessly taken with no probable cause, no remorse and no criminal repercussions.

Baltimore, please understand that I love you dearly. But in recognizing your greater potential, I must express my disdain for your futile response to this unfortunate situation. The very thing we should work tirelessly to protect, is now being destroyed by the same people claiming to love it the most. Schools are being closed, vehicles are being vandalized, businesses are being looted and homes are being burned. Our kids are being arrested and our city is in turmoil. At what expense?

What do we say to the innocent children forced to bear witness to these events? How do we explain to them the reason for the destruction of their neighborhoods? How do we compensate the parents who have lost their jobs and are now unemployed because of fires and vandalism? How do we console the hardworking mothers of children who now have to stand before a judge and watch their child plead for their freedom? Death is not the only way to lose a life and in the city of Baltimore, we've lost too many lives already.

One senseless act of violence does not authenticate nor warrant additional senseless acts of violence. How does this breed a resolution to the death of Freddie Gray or console his family? Someone explain to me how stealing toilet paper and Doritos from a CVS will bring justice to the death of an innocent man?

This needs to stop! Drugs and violence have already been a detriment to our community for generations, claiming the lives of too many of our friends and family members. When will it come to an end? Is our willingness to rise about inequality predicated on cultural terrorism?

I believe we can peacefully stand in solidarity to demand the reprimand of those responsible for the death of our brother, without the use of insignificant aggression and lawlessness. This is a call for justice, not an excuse for revenge.

We should be educating the future leaders of our city, not contributing to the already limited educational and economic resources that are currently present throughout our neighborhoods. We can't expect to receive better without first learning to do better. What we stand for as a city has not been properly represented in the media. We are not a city of hate, we are a city of strength, a city of courage and a city of survivors.

I've been a victim of police officers abusing their authority and I've witnessed the mistreatment of my fellow Baltimoreans at the hands of those sworn to protect us. We share the same blood. We've fought the same fight. Now we must stand together in fellowship. We've already made history. The gangs in our city are showing solidarity, standing shoulder to shoulder with the religious leaders of our communities. There is no division, we all seek justice.

We've been depicted as animals, so let's show the world how we protect our own.

No one can take away our pain, but violence will never vindicate this tragedy. Let's work together to rebuild what was already broken and rediscover what's been lost for generations-- unity. There will be no justice if there is no peace, so my only request is that we reframe our focus and concentrate on what's important. We need to preserve the life of Freddie Gray, while working to save the lives of our city.

Baltimore, for far too long you've been criticized for your mistakes, now let's celebrate the beginning of your rebirth.

With love and compassion,

Your Son