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By Laurell Glenn
I wish I didn’t have to choose sides. My friends are totally against the police because they think cops are all out to get them. On the other hand, my cousin is a police officer and also a single mother of three. Not a single day goes by that I don’t worry about her safety. I admire her for putting her life on the line for people who don’t respect her.
I am a young person living in Baltimore city and I do understand that my community has every reason to be upset. I’d never throw a rock at a cop, but I can see why someone else would.
When the first peaceful protests in Baltimore turned violent, my family and I sat down and watched CNN together. My mom said this isn’t the way to protest. While we were watching, I was on Facebook arguing with my friends. I told them that violence isn’t the way, and that it would just add more to our problems.
My friends said, “Well you’re against the cause!” I understand why they feel this way because of the bad history with police in our community. Young people like me want to feel safe and be able to trust the people who are there to protect us.
Last week, my school participated in a peaceful student rally for justice for Freddie Gray. We also marched to combat all the bad publicity about Baltimore teens. We wanted to prove that we weren’t all delinquents and that we actually cared about our city.
It was the first time I participated in a rally and it felt good.
Then news of the charges against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray came out. I was proud to have done my small part by participating in that peaceful march.
What’s next? I will continue to protest.
I want my cousin to know that I respect that she has chosen to try to make our city safe. But to do that we need to build a better relationship between the police and the people of our community.
This is the civil rights movement of my generation and I want my voice in it.
Youth Radio produced Laurell Glenn’s essay in collaboration with Wide Angle Youth Media in Baltimore.