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Baltimore Archbishop Tours Riot-Torn Neighborhoods

Capture d'écran/Le Figaro

Mark Stricherz - published on 04/29/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Archbishop Lori calls for prayers then dialogue on "systemic issues"

First prayer, then dialogue – Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore toured the city’s riot-torn western neighborhoods Tuesday and urged all city residents to talk with God then each other, according to The Catholic Review, the archdiocese’s newspaper:

Archbishop Lori made stops at St. Peter, St. Gregory the Great and the senior center next door, and at St. Edward, before heading to North Avenue to survey looted buildings and the carcass of a burned car.

He said during the unrest he called as many West Baltimore pastors as he could, and spoke to many of them.

We will continue to do a lot of work, especially through Bishop (Denis) Madden and the city pastors, especially on the west side,” he said.

“First of all, let’s pray. … We need to strengthen our communities that they might be a force of peace. We need to participate vigorously in a citywide dialogue on the systemic issues that have really bubbled up to the surface here,” the archbishop said. “It seems that’s our role in this.”

On Monday, faith leaders led the charge to quell the unrest in west Baltimore, according to the Washington Post:

The first group to enter the core area where the violence occurred was a group of a dozen or more religious leaders led by the Rev. Jamal Bryant, members of the Nation of Islam and students from Morgan State University. The groups of men began to engage, press back and disperse youths who had been hurling rocks in the general direction of the police.

“This is not what Baltimore stands for,” Bryant, who helped organize protests after Gray’s death, told CNN. “I am asking everyone to go home and clear the streets. This does not represent the Gray family, nor does it represent the last seven days of peaceful protesting.”

When looters broke into a cellphone store, members of a religious group chased them out and formed a wall of bodies to block the entrance.

The Rev. Duane Simmons, pastor of Simmons Memorial Baptist Church, stood in front of his church, which is a block away from the burned-out CVS, and shook his head in frustration.

“It is heart-wrenching, but it is something that we have been anticipating,” Simmons said. “People are frustrated. It is like a rat who has been backed into a corner. These folks have had enough.”

Simmons left his church to attend a meeting of church leaders who sought to come up with a solution to the violence.

In a related development, a former political and civic leader told the Post that he and others talked with west Baltimore citizens Monday night:

Former congressman and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume called the events a "growing pain" in a process toward "real structural change" in the Police Department, which has been criticized by protesters for a history of brutality against citizens.

Mfume said he was walking the streets Monday night to try to connect with the young people causing trouble.

"There are a number of neighborhoods where men like myself, older, mature men … telling them there is a better way, a different way," Mfume said.

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