Writers React To Baltimore Riots And Protests After The Funeral Of Freddie Gray
No matter your background or where you're from, all eyes have been on Baltimore this week, particularly Monday night through Tuesday morning. The civic unrest has been bubbling since the death of Baltimore citizen Freddie Gray in police custody, though arguably, it has been building for decades. The 25-year-old Gray died on April 19, reportedly of spinal injuries, after he was arrested in West Baltimore on April 12. Baltimore riots and protests broke out after Gray's funeral Thursday and proceeded into the night. A city-wide curfew was just lifted at 5 a.m. Friday morning.
During the riots in West Baltimore, reportedly at least 15 police officers were injured, along with many citizens, during hours-long protests that broke into violence, fires, and looting. The governor of Baltimore issued a state of emergency and called for help from the National Guard to get people off the streets.
Celebrities have voiced their thoughts and prayers for the people in Baltimore, and have expressed their opinions about the violence in the city. It has already been well documented that writer and creator behind HBO's The Wire, mostly set in West Baltimore, David Simon spoke out in a call to end the violence in a city he has called his home.
Simon has also written a non-fiction novel set in inner-city Baltimore, titled The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. But several other writers have also spoken their opinions on the riots, sharing their hope to see positive change, expressing their support, or using their platform to get out the word about Baltimore events to their followers.
Young adult author Justina Ireland — probably best known for 2014's Promise of Shadows — wrote a blog about how racism is alive and well in 2015 United States Thursday, and she has been an active participant in the Baltimore riots discussion, showcasing how the riots and some of how people are reacting to them are systemic.
Poet and A Stranger in Olondria writer Sofia Samatar and YA author Sona Charaipotra (the latter via a retweet of a powerful picture) seem to agree with Ireland.
Other authors, like Liar's Justine Larbalestier, Dirty Wings' Sarah McCarry, Bad Feminist and Untamed State's Roxane Gay, science fiction writer Annalee Flower Horne, and YA fantasy writer Tessa Gratton, antithetical to Simon, all spoke out about the critique of the violence perpetrated by civilians in Baltimore.
Baltimore native crime writer Laura Lippman was called upon to speak out, but she remarked that she would need further time to process.
There were several authors who chose to focus on the positivity coming out of Baltimore and elsewhere in the world, particularly Friday as locals helped to clean up the streets and libraries remained open as a place for children and their parents to go as school closed.