Peaceful Protests Take Over Intersection After Riots

BALTIMORE -- A group of community members came together Tuesday to funnel positive energy into a very dismal neighborhood, a day after violent protests rocked Baltimore.

Dozens of people gathered at the intersection of W. North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue -- an area that on Monday was marred by trash, burning vehicles and a torched CVS.

Instead of chaos, the intersection on Tuesday hosted a group of drummers, percussionists and marital artists. Jason Harris, a local artist, told The Huffington Post that several community groups came out to form a drum circle and perform capoeira “to put out some positive community energy in the place where violence occurred yesterday.”

Harris, who helped organize the drum circle with another Baltimore artist named Menes Yehuda, said Monday's events at Mondawmin Mall and the protests that followed showcased a community reacting "not only to the murder of Freddie Gray," but also to "the history and legacy of oppression that’s been placed upon the people of this city based on police presence [and] police behavior in our communities."

Harris also noted that the rumor of gang members crossing lines and going after the police was “manufactured” and put out on social media.

“In order to combat [that], we know ... as people and as artists that we have to create our own narratives that are not controlled by corporate media,” he said. "It’s incumbent upon the people. ... We can’t just react to what’s out there.”

Harris said capoeira -- the Brazilian blend of martial arts, dance and music -- was appropriate for the demonstrations because of the art's roots.

“For us, capoeira is an easy thing to apply to instances where we want to pursue or articulate issues in regards to social justice because capoeira was born out of struggle. Capoeira is a community art,” he said.

"It has a lot of positive energy. It has music. It has history. And all those things, right now, are what the people in Baltimore need," Harris said. "We’re basically trying to create an energy that is a response [to] and pushes back [against] the negative energy that’s permeating this city now as a result of the police occupation and the curfew."

During the drum circle, some volunteers continued to clean out the CVS that was destroyed during Monday's protests.

Further west on W. North Avenue, just behind the police blockade, the atmosphere was noticeably less cheerful. Police officers stood impassively while a small group of people on the corner occasionally shouted at them.

Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.