BALTIMORE — While the celebrities and athletes empathize with the pent up emotion stemming from yet another unarmed black man being killed after a violent encounter with white police officers, they resoundingly and vehemently denounce the senseless and direction-less violence and looting exemplified on Monday night in Maryland.
Two of the city’s most famous athletes, Ray Lewis and Carmelo Anthony, spoke out on the horror they witnessed on their televisions along with millions others.
Lewis, the Hall of Famer and former superstar linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, implored those involved in rioting to “stop the violence.”
“Baltimore get off the streets. Kids, go home. Stay home,” Lewis said in an impassioned video posted on Facebook. “You don’t have no right to do what you’re doing to this city. Too many hard-working people built this city. We put this city together, we put this city on our back. We’re with you. We know what’s going on. We know the problems. We know there was wrong done. We know we’re not getting the right justice. We know all these answers. But rioting in our streets is wrong — it’s dead wrong.”
New York Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony, who was born in New York but spent the balance of his childhood in Baltimore, wrote a message on Instagram asking for calm and to “build our city up not tear it down.”
“We all want Justice. And our city will get the answers we are looking for,” Anthony said. “My deepest sympathy goes out to the GRAY Family. To see my city in a State of Emergency is just shocking. We need to protect our city, not destroy it. What happens when we get the answers that we want, and the media attention is not there anymore? We go back to being the same ol Baltimore City again. If not yourself, then Think about the youth. How this will impact them. Let’s build our city up not tear it down.”
Lewis, who has been hailed as a sports hero after 17 legendary seasons for the Baltimore Ravens that included a Super Bowl MVP award, admonished the children in the city to stay off the streets.
“No way, no way this can happen in our city. Young kids, you’ve got to understand something. Get off the streets. Violence is not the answer, violence has never been the answer,” Lewis said. “… We don’t do nothing for [Freddie Gray] doing this. We know there’s a deeper issue. We know what the jungle looks like. But this isn’t it.”
Lewis added: “I can’t come back home and this is it — kids can’t walk to the street. This is our future. Our future is in Baltimore — what we’re trying to build is in Baltimore. Too many babies paying attention to this craziness. And the sad part is, we’ve got young kids trying to tell us how they’re going to dictate our city. That won’t happen. We must change this right now. Stop the violence man. Go home. I’m telling you, go home. Whatever I gotta do, it will not happen on our clock. It will not happen on our clock.”
Anthony said rioters should focus on “the real issues.”
“Although, we want justice, let’s look at the real issues at hand,” the New York Knicks star wrote. “For example, When was the last school built in Baltimore? That’s just one example. I know my community is fed up. I’m all about fighting for what we believe in. The anger, the resentment, the neglect that our community feels right now, will not change over night. Continue, fighting for what you believe in. But remember, it takes no time to destroy something. But, it can take forever to build it back up.”
Other celebrities, including the creator and actors on the mega-popular HBO series “The Wire,” also spoke out against the riots and looting that injured 15 officers, destroyed inner city property and led to the governor calling in the National Guard to restore order.
“To my Beloved city Baltimore..I feel your pain,” tweeted actor Andre Royo. “Stand up..rise UP without breaking down! Discipline not Destruction. #VictorynotVictims.” Actor Wendell Pierce shared his dismay with what the rioters were doing. “Baltimore. These are not protestors. These are criminals disrespectful of the wishes of the family and people of good will,” he tweeted.
The Wire creator David Simon’s stance is the same following Freddie Gray’s death. He strongly criticized the violent reaction on his blog:
“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.”