May 2, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)
Today was supposed to be the opening of a group photography exhibit by Creative Exposure Baltimore at New Beginnings Barbershop. Troy, the owner, and I were looking forward to this event as a positive thing at the end of a troubled time in Baltimore. However, a credible threat in this area made it wise to postpone the opening party.
A brief timeline: April 12, Freddie Gray, an African American, was arrested for some unknown reason by Baltimore police. By the time the police van arrived at the Western District Police Station, he was unresponsive. He was taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma where he died on April 19. Angry protests began in Baltimore with fires, looting and destruction on April 27. On May 1, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that homicide, manslaughter and misconduct charges had been filed against six police officers. David and I were at the protest/celebration/rally at City Hall on May 1.
Since April 27, most events in Baltimore have been canceled or rescheduled. One exception was the City Lit Festival today at the Enoch Pratt Central Library on Cathedral Street. Although attendance was down from last year, it was a good event and David and I listened to readers at New Mercury Readings. As we walked back to our car in a free parking space that David found, we saw the Pennsylvania State Police crossing the street in front of us. It was eerie. They lined up and spaced themselves in front of boarded up, vacant properties along Howard Street. I remember this whole area as a classy shopping district in the 50’s when I was growing up. Things change.
We stayed around and observed trees growing out of empty windows above the line of troops. Hunger took us to a restaurant, Alewife, which occupies what used to be Lucy’s. In an empty restaurant, we had choice of seats. However, because of problems with food deliveries during the past week of unrest in Baltimore, there were only four choices on the menu. We decided on fries and water. It turned out to be a good choice.
On the way back to our car on Paca Street, we saw a new graffiti message. Signs during the protests had displayed the message, “Black lives matter.” This new graffiti said, “God bless all lives.” If there is a god, I’m sure She doesn’t favor one race, one gender, one nationality or one class. Good message.
My gift today is graffiti.
You can find links to my other posts on this project here: