It didn’t take long for Joseph Kent, the Morgan State University student and vocal activist snatched into a Humvee by Baltimore City police on a live news broadcast, to hit the streets in a vocal protest against police following his dramatic arrest.
On Friday, just moments after Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby handed down charges for the six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, Kent was back on the intersection of North and Penn — an area now dotted with media, National Guard troops, and police following the burning of a CVS store in a bout of unrest last week — with a sign that read “#ILoveBaltimore #AllLivesMatter #Believe #FreddieGray.”
It didn’t matter that just hours before he disappeared on national television (social media reports speculated the peaceful protester with his hands in the air was “kidnapped” by police). It didn’t matter that he was stuck in a holding cell for hours because the city’s overcrowded jail couldn’t book him into the system. And despite the entire ordeal, played out on news cameras for the world to see, Kent wasn’t deterred from keeping the peace in the streets of Baltimore.
But the music student and public activist told NewsOne that violence, while he doesn’t condone it, led to the small win Baltimore residents experienced Friday when Mosby put out warrants for the six officers’ arrests.
“I knew that when it came to Baltimore it was going to get violent because of the pattern in every city,” the 21-year-old said.
“When it came to Baltimore, we had to stand up to get attention…we’ve got to break the cycle. It keeps happening and the police keep getting off…I don’t condone the violence but it got us ahead, it got us a good decision as far as this tragedy in Baltimore and we got a lot of attention from around the world to stop the cycle of police brutality,” he told NewsOne.
Kent, who garnered attention from his activist efforts after the death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, has long stood on the front lines of demonstrations against police violence. In fact, the day he was swept into the Humvee, “like it was a vacuum,” he told NewsOne, he was trying to keep tensions between residents and police at bay.
In an Atlantic profile that described Kent as an integral part of the new generation of civil rights leaders, his attorney Steve Beatty stressed that the young man was dedicated to keeping things “peaceful.”
“I don’t think he’s ever been arrested before,” Beatty said. “He led the charge in keeping the Ferguson protests peaceful.”
And that’s what the student with two jobs and a fire to change conditions for Black people nationwide plans to do for Baltimore.
“We still have to stand strong and peaceful…but powerful at the same time,” he said.
You can watch Kent’s exclusive interview with NewsOne above.