By Jasmine Byrd
With hopes to recover from the riots that concentrated a lot of damage in West Baltimore, the St. Peter Claver Church on North Fremont Avenue opened their doors yesterday to many of their Sandtown neighbors for a dinner and a food drive, feeding over a hundred people.
Two active community organizations, No Boundaries Coalition and Baltimore United in Leadership, facilitated the dinner and food drive. Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church and a group of students from the Peabody Institute donated food, as well as others from neighboring communities.
Rebecca Negle, director of the coalition, said that the purpose of the night was to get everyone fed and provide a space for the neighborhood to decompress.
“We want to heal,” said Melissa Kelly, a Sandtown native and member of the No Boundaries Coalition. “We live here. It’s personal.”
Since last year, the coalition made public safety and police accountability top priorities. Negle has been active in the community since 2008 and co-founded the No Boundaries Coalition, a community-led advocacy group for West Baltimore; including the Sandtown area.
Some of the Sandtown residents have lived long enough to see riots of this magnitude happen in Baltimore after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“People were frustrated,” said 72-year-old William Domneys, who was in his 20s during the 1968 riots.
Many of the residents are still fed up.
“It shouldn’t take a child dying to get to this point. It’s been going on around here,” said Barbara Hunter, 66. “There’s a lot of Freddie Grays in this world when you think about it.”
While the community understood the cause, some did not agree with the riots and looting. Many businesses were destroyed, such as the CVS pharmacy located at the corner of West North and Pennsylvania avenues.
“Those were criminals the other night,” said Kelly. “People can’t get their prescriptions filled.”
Ray Kelly, Melissa Kelly’s husband and president of the No Boundaries Coalition, wants to take the “manpower” of the youth and channel it into positive efforts, like voting and changing legislation.
“Hopefully, we can manipulate the momentum,” said Ray Kelly.
Photo Credit: Luv Peace
To see more photos from this event, click here.