By Adam Sechrist
Bishop M. Cromartie of Baltimore’s Prophetic Deliverance Ministries has had enough of the violence and rioting in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. The bishop, who says he saw his own cousin killed by police in 2002, told Yahoo News that it’s his mission to keep kids off the streets and spread the message that it’s OK to protest but not OK to start riots.
“There’s still a majority of us here that are stabilized citizens that still believe in doing the work of the city and keeping order in the city,” Cromartie said.
The bishop took a picture that’s now gone viral of a young African-American boy handing a Baltimore police officer in full riot gear a bottle of water. He said he believes the picture spread on social media because it shows that despite the fires, looting and riots, the majority of Baltimore’s citizens are there to peacefully take care of each other.
Cromartie also told Yahoo News that he believes parents need to play a larger role in controlling their children, especially on social media and in terms of what they’re doing before and after school.
But, the bishop said, it’s not just up to the parents to keep kids from joining gangs and breaking the law.
“Keep open things for kids to learn, so that way they’re not on the streets,” he said. “We have to keep things open for them that are productive so we can channel energy in the right direction and they’re not just wandering the streets. That’s how drug dealers are becoming, that’s how killers are becoming, because they’re wandering the streets.”
Cromartie said he hopes a positive message can come out of Baltimore so that in other American cities we can see people using peaceful protests to effect change, as opposed to rioting and looting.
“Follow the cause and protest peacefully,” said the bishop. “We cannot stop you from protesting, because that is your right, but do it the right way. There’s a difference between protesting, there’s a difference between vandalism and there’s a difference between looting. It is breaking the law.”