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A Scene From Baltimore: This Is 'Not A Carnival'

After a day of violence, demonstrators turned to music on Tuesday in Baltimore.
Eyder Peralta
After a day of violence, demonstrators turned to music on Tuesday in Baltimore.

Whether it seemed appropriate or not, today parts of Baltimore seemed to be swept up in a carnival atmosphere.

This morning, as the sun began to make its way across the horizon, several demonstrators set up a drum circle and they danced. Others gave away water and food, and dozens of them linked arms to act as a buffer from a line of police.

Carrying signs and chanting slogans, hundreds of people marched in west Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spine injury while he was in police custody.

It was a much different scene than the one following Gray's funeral, where anger gave way to riots. Residents set buildings and cars on fire. Twenty police officers were injured and more than 200 were arrested.

But today, Derika Brown, 25, made her way past the chain and looked the police officers in the eye.

"Whose side are you on?" she screamed.

Brown said she was angry that police continue to beat and kill black men. She was angry that protests had turned into a celebration.

"I appreciate peace," she said. "But at the same time it's not a carnival. This is not a celebration of a man's life. We're angry. We should be angry. We don't have to be angry and burn down buildings, but we have a right to engage in dialogue. We have a right to walk through our communities and we should do that. But it's not a carnival."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.