for love of baltimore.

I want to take a minute to talk about what's going on in Baltimore right now. I am not a Baltimore native. But when I came here to attend law school, this city stole my heart.

First, I want to say that the rioters are not the majority of the protesters. On Saturday, several thousand people marched. Of them, only around 100 were actually violent. Granted that's 100 too many people but still the point remains that the overwhelming majority of the protesters are non-violent.

But then there are the violent ones.

I have the news coverage on now and Montel was just interviewed. For those that don't know, Montel was born & raised in Baltimore. And he made an excellent point:

This is not Baltimore. This violence does not represent our city.

I want to emphasize that point.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Baltimore is that the whole city is some dangerous war zone where you're guaranteed to be the victim of violent crime.

But that's simply not true.

Baltimore is a city of history. There are civil war landmarks here. Fort McHenry is here. The Star Spangled Banner was written here. The Catechism was written here.

Baltimore is a city of culture. There are restaurants that rival DC and NYC without breaking a sweat here. There are opera houses, symphonies, and play houses here. The world famous Peabody Library is here. The nation's first Cathedral is here.

Baltimore is a city of education. There are multiple higher education institutions here, including Loyola, Johns Hopkins, the University of Baltimore, and the University of Maryland. The Baltimore School for the Arts is here (alums include Jada Pinkett Smith & Tupac).

Baltimore is a city of fascinating, unique neighborhoods. The artsy beautiful historic neighborhood of Mount Vernon is here. The bro-tastic Federal Hill is here. The quaint waterfront Canton is here. The toursity but always lovable Inner Harbor is here.

Baltimore is a city of industry. Under Armor is headquartered and maintains a strong presence here. The Johns Hopkins hospital with its cutting edge research is here. McCormick & Company is here (the spice company). Countless other businesses from all different segments of industry are here.

The bottom line is that like Montel said, violence does not represent Baltimore.

I would be lying if I said that Baltimore didn't have its struggles. Drugs and crime are not exactly unknown here. But that doesn't mean that the whole city is a giant version of The Wire. It's not.

So why are these rioters destroying this city?

There are issues that need fixed. Relationship between the police and the impoverished residents of Baltimore are not good. Like I said, drugs are a problem here. So is poverty.

We can't deny those realities. We can't continue to ignore them or push them out of the city either. We have to address them.

But violence is not the answer.  Violence, combined with a hungry 24 hour news cycle, is only destroying the city, driving away those that would help address these issues.

So please, friends, don't write off Baltimore as a city of violence and crime. Don't participate in the violence. Don't feed the violent, hateful rhetoric surrounding the tragic death of Freddie Gray.

Instead, let's talk about the issues. Actually, really talk about them in a productive manner. Let's propose real solutions to the problem. Workable solutions. Let's find common ground and work to build even more common ground across racial and class lines. Let's narrow the gap, not by pushing out but by raising up.

If nothing else, say a prayer for Baltimore. Pray that our city will come to be known not just for violence and riots but for the wonderful, unique city that it is. Pray for peace. Pray for understanding. Pray for change (but not like this).

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