If the brutality of law enforcement sparked protests, why would anyone expect police to be able to stop them?
Local community leaders have already played a key role in peaceful protests, and they were out in the streets during the violence, prevailing upon demonstrators to remain calm and peaceful—and often doing so with more poise and effect than other actors on the scene. Pastor Jamal Bryant, the local minister who delivered Gray’s eulogy and has been instrumental in protests over his death, headed out into the streets in an attempt to tamp down violence. In an instantly viral moment, a mother who saw her son throwing rocks delivered a thunderous physical scolding.
The volunteers, the people who show up when the cameras are off and get to the work of cleaning West Baltimore up, will naturally earn some respect in the neighborhood. With so many failed authorities around them, and so many deep structural challenges remaining, they’ll have plenty of work.