Baltimore pastor: Monday’s riots were ‘a horror’

The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District police station April 21, 2015 in Baltimore during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody. Bryant, who performed the eulogy for Gray’s funeral on Monday, condemned Monday night’s riots as well as the city’s handling of the incidents. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

BALTIMORE (MEDIA GENERAL) – After protests in Baltimore turned violent Monday, popular Baltimore preacher Rev. Jamal Bryant voiced his displeasure with Monday’s riots, saying he was in “complete dismay” and referring to the scene as “a horror.”

“It is unfortunate, because it doesn’t mirror or reflect the ideology of this movement, which is in and unto itself non-violent and all the more it is peaceful,” Bryant told MSNBC’S Chris Hayes on Monday, April 27, 2015. “It is our resolve that violence doesn’t bring justice. It is counter to what we are aiming for.”

On Monday, Bryant delivered the eulogy for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old who died April 19 after suffering a spinal cord injury while in police custody. Following Gray’s death, protesters have taken to the streets of Baltimore to voice frustrations with police violence.

Shortly after Gray’s memorial service, riots broke out. Several businesses and buildings were looted, damaged and burned. According to city spokesman Kevin Harris, 202 people were arrested Monday night for a variety of charged related to the riots. In total, the city reported 19 structure fires and 144 vehicle fires.

At least 20 police officers were injured during the riots, one was critically hurt after a building fire, according to the Baltimore Police Department.

Bryant questions the tactics used by Baltimore police to respond to protesters and quell the riots.

“I think (Baltimore city leaders) were caught with their proverbial pants down; absolutely having no idea what to do,” Bryant told HLN’s Robin Meade in an interview Tuesday. “The National Guard is here – 5,000 troops are on the ground. And here’s what you have got to realize is that we’re not talking about escaped convicts, we are talking about high schoolers. They can’t control them.”

Bryant says he is focused on the future of Baltimore, one in which the community and families work together to rebuild the city to what it wants to be.

“The government has to do what they have to do. But at the same time, I think our parents have a responsibility to do what they need to do,” Bryant told HLN. “There’s an African proverb that says it takes a village to raise our children. And now this village of Baltimore is rising up, so that we can take back control of our city and our children so we can start a new chapter.”

The reverend told HLN he is taking it on himself to teach Baltimore’s youth the difference between civil disobedience and rioting. Bryant planned to hold a lesson in his church, Empowerment Temple AME, on Tuesday and to organize groups of people to help clean up messes caused by Monday’s riots.





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