Some Important Voices Have Weighed in on the Unrest in Baltimore

April 28th 2015

Laura Donovan

Baltimore is in a declared state of emergency Tuesday with continued unrest resulting from the death of Freddie Gray, a Black man who died in Baltimore police custody earlier this month. Monday's demonstrations turned violent, and state and local authorities declared a curfew and called in the National Guard. (For a summary of a the case, check out this quick explainer.)

Here are what prominent voices are saying today:

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Atlantic writer, who often covers race relations, noted in a new article that the call for nonviolence in Baltimore doesn't make sense given the violent nature of Gray's death: 

"When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is 'correct' or 'wise,' any more than a forest fire can be 'correct' or 'wise.' Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the rioters themselves."

Coates added this on Twitter as well:

Singer and Oscar winner John Legend went on to share Coates's article on Twitter:


David Simon

The creator of HBO's The Wire, a TV series that painstakingly detailed economic and racial strike in Baltimore, called for peaceful protest. In a blog post Monday, he wrote:

"But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease. There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today. But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death. If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please."

Montel Williams

The talk show personality posted tweets throughout the day regarding the protests, which he believed got out of hand, "#‎BaltimoreRiots As a guy who grew up in Cherry Hill, WE NEED PEACE IN BALTIMORE. There's good reason to be frustrated, THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS."

Patton Oswalt

The actor and comedian took notice of the way the demonstrations were covered by big TV news outlets:

Demi Lovato

The former Disney star noted the coinciding tragedies of the Nepal earthquake and Baltimore demonstrations:

Kevin Hart

The standup comedian expressed genuine sadness over the situation in Baltimore:

Hillary Clinton 

The Democratic presidential candidate called for peace, but also notes that the community deserves answers about what led to Gray's death:

Dr. Ben Carson

Likely GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson took issue with the nature of the demonstrations:

Cedric the Entertainer

The comedian likened the demonstrations to those in Ferguson, Mo., following the death of Michael Brown last year: