Black Lives Matter Minneapolis turned out more than a thousand supporters Wednesday evening to show solidarity with the protests happening in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody on April 19 from a fatal spinal cord injury.
Police blocked off roads ahead of marchers as they made their way through downtown Minneapolis on Washington Avenue and across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, shutting down both sides of Washington as well as eastbound traffic on the bridge.
The march started around 6:30 p.m. at Gold Medal Park. It ended roughly two hours later at Honey on the east side of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge where local hip hop artist Brother Ali gave a surprise outdoor performance in support of the movement. Participants tagged the event #MN2bMore on social media.
“Today we’re here because of what’s happening in Baltimore,” said BLM Minneapolis organizer Miski Noor. “And to stand in solidarity with them to show them that we hear them, we see them and we are here.”
Noor said it shouldn’t take tragedies to rally people against inequality and police brutality, but that she understands that when tragedies occur people plug into the pain and find a way to express it.
In a BLM Minneapolis press release, St. Thomas law professor and BLM organizer Nekima Levy-Pounds said the unrest in Baltimore is “symptomatic of the growing rage across the country against police abuse and oppression.”
Maryland governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard on Monday after police officers were injured and several fires were set throughout the city.
But Noor said the violence in Baltimore being heavily covered by the media is exaggerated, and the majority of demonstrators are protesting peacefully. “We’ve got this picture being painted of all these rioters and all this violence but it’s just a small minority,” she said. “We’ve been really blessed and lucky that people [in Minneapolis] have remained peaceful because they’re dedicated to the message we’re sending.”
Wednesday’s demonstration in Minneapolis was no exception. Event organizers and local police worked together throughout the march to direct traffic and marchers alike. One demonstrator, Mohamed Samatar, even went so far as to burn sage during the march. “Native Americans and other cultures use it for healing,” he said, “for giving peace.”
BLM Minneapolis is planning another rally on May 1 to support the eleven organizers being charged in connection with a protest at the Mall of America back in December. The organizers will be appearing at their second court hearing that morning.