Baltimore pastor works with faith leaders to bring healing to the city after Freddie Gray unrest
A Baltimore pastor has joined with leaders of other faiths to address the needs of the city following recent unrest in response to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained a fatal spinal injury while in police custody.
Sunday's Interfaith Rally took place on Baltimore's City Hall/War Memorial Plaza, bringing together clergy and hundreds of members of faith communities to advocate for a more unified city.
Pastor Jamal Bryant, Senior Pastor of Empowerment Temple A.M.E. Church of Baltimore,, who organised the rally, reflected upon recent peace treaties agreed between rival gangs, telling CNN, "If gangs could come together, how come people of faith couldn't come together?"
Faith communities agreed at the rally to work together on reconciliation and take part in 6 a.m. daily prayer sessions.
In the interview with CNN, Bryant attributed the unrest to complex economic issues. "We're dealing with a superstructure system that has, in fact, been designed to oppress African-Americans," he claimed
Bryant shared with the Today Show that he feels "young black people have little confidence in the legal system", referencing instances of police violence against black youths including Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin in the last 36 months.
He called upon Governor Larry Hogan to join him in prayer and help to address the issues through an Emergency Session of the General Assembly that would consider adding seventeen amendments to the Police Officers' Bill of Rights and start an intentional movement toward increased support for minority businesses and employment in the area.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Hogan is in discussions with lawmakers regarding the possibility of forming a work group aimed at restructuring criminal justice issues, but has not seriously considered requests for the Emergency Session.
Hogan attended Catholic services in Sandtown-Winchester Saturday, the hometown of Freddie Gray and site of his arrest.
In his own statement, Hogan said, "As we begin to rebuild and restore, let us renew our faith in the true spirit of our city and its people. I pray that tomorrow will be a day of reflection and will serve as a foundation for how we all conduct ourselves in the days and months to come."