Baltimore Riots: The Day After

Written on April 30, 2015

I’m no longer a news reporter, but I am a storyteller. That’s why I drove to Baltimore on Tuesday, pulled by an inexplicable force to capture what I saw and heard.

The constant barrage of stories in the wake of Monday’s riots left me navigating a strange mix of anger and sadness. Long fascinated by American history, especially the unrest during the era in which I was born, I could not help but feel we’ve taken a huge step backward.

What I saw confirmed a long-gestating belief that we’ve not come as far as I naively hoped and thought 10 years ago. As a society, we keep making the same mistakes over and over, doomed to repeat them with each passing generation because things don't fundamentally change.

••••••

I’ve long had a fascination with Baltimore, located about an hour from where we live. The city is a study in racial and economic contrasts, from the beauty of the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards area to the rampant poverty, unemployment and crime in the western part of the city.

On Tuesday, I drove past the stadium where we took our kids to their first major-league baseball game. No games were being played; when the Orioles took the field again the next afternoon, the stadium was empty.

I parked on Franklin Street and started walking, almost by reflex, toward the theatre where Ben has performed in two national tours over the past three years. But I was pulled, camera in hand, toward Pennsylvania Avenue.

I started taking pictures, all the while aware of my surroundings on this beautiful spring day. I smiled when someone told me to be careful, nodded at the two kids who asked if I was going "down there" to take pictures, and watched the helicopters circling overhead. As I walked past the small shops and buildings, many boarded up or closed, I did my best to ignore the occasional person who yelled at me to take their picture. Instead, I took random photos of what I saw as I moved through the Upton-Druid Heights neighborhood and toward the CVS Pharmacy at the intersection of West North and Pennsylvania.

For the rest of this story, go to my blog entry here.