This Photo Of A Baltimore Boy Handing Police Water Has An Incredible Story Behind It

Earlier this Tuesday, Bishop M. Cromartie, senior pastor at Prophetic Deliverance Ministries, posted on Facebook a photo of a boy offering water to a Baltimore Police Department officer. The photo was taken as Cromartie and others helped to clean up the area that looters and rioters had left damaged and trash-ridden. Over the course of the day, some 44,000 people shared the photo on Facebook while numerous others promoted it on Twitter thanks, in part, to other religious leaders like Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks. Cromartie discussed the story behind the photo and what else he's seen on the streets of Baltimore with Bustle on Tuesday evening.

Cromartie first noticed the little boy in the photo because no one else — not even adults — were trying to help the police like he was, he tells Bustle. The boy was doggedly persistent, trying over and over again to hand water to the police officer in the picture. Finally, after numerous attempts, he got the officer's attention, and that was when Cromartie snapped the photo. The pastor says he sees the picture as "a way to show that Baltimore is not as bad and that the people who riot are just a handful, that clearly you have, statewide, people who actually care."

Cromartie tells Bustle, "He actually was the only one handing out water — that stood out by himself — and what was so intriguing was he was doing it on his own. It showed that he had a mind of his own that, despite everything that was going on, that he still wanted to make sure the police were okay and he may be realizing that someday he's going to need the police. The police officer did not take the water and I didn't expect him to. I would not take it considering what's going on and how people are feeling."

The most powerful thing to Cromartie was that the boy, who was with family as they helped with the clean-up efforts, had made his decision all on his own. Cromartie expressed surprise when I told him over the phone that others were now following suit and that photos had spread of citizens handing officers pizza at protests as well. The pastor sees it as a generational thing, more a marker of social media than actual care. "It's just kind of crazy that people began to do it — to help officers — after they saw the photo," Cromartie says.

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The photos of citizens helping in the aftermath of Monday's protests aren't just locals but rather citizens from across the country who see the importance of standing up and speaking out peacefully, Cromartie tells Bustle. "People from out of state, young people, old people; it has become beyond a Baltimore thing. We have people from Detroit, I met a few people I think from California," Cromartie says.

Cromartie saw the culmination of those efforts from citizens and religious leaders alike when he spotted a man sweeping up and disposing of trash by himself. Slowly, people began joining the man with the trash bag. The pastor and others have been ministering as they walk the streets, helping citizens process in real time the unfortunate violence that has superseded the good deeds of others.

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If there's anything you can take away from Cromartie's photo and his accounts of Baltimore, it's that people care deeply for each other, that no one is in this alone. The wisdom that Cromartie could impart to those watching the Baltimore protests unfold throughout the country was simply this, he says: "Pray for Baltimore, that unity comes and that peace comes."

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