DMV rapper Wale paid a visit to a Baltimore high school this morning, hoping to offer some encouragement to the students of a city that has been marred by looting and violent protests following the death of Freddie Gray.
Wale visited Frederick Douglas High School, a public school on Baltimore’s embattled West side, and held an impromptu town hall meeting with students in a library. “Regardless of what’s happened out here, these are the young leaders of tomorrow and they have to look in the mirror and see something better than what they’re being perceived as on TV,” Wale said, recorded by local MyFoxDC cameras. “We need each other. We need our community leaders to come step forward and we need these kids to understand that somebody believes in them. I believe in them.”
Gray, a 25 year-old black man, was apprehended by Baltimore police on April 12th after fleeing for reasons unconfirmed. While in police custody, Gray’s spine was severed, and the young man died one week later as a result of his injuries. In the wake of his death and funeral, the city has erupted into protests and subsequent police crackdowns, echoing scenes from last fall in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of Michael Brown.
While Wale spoke at Frederick Douglas High, Maryland National Guard troops sat stationed nearby, across a street. “I never thought I’d be in here with weapons, or anything,” one Guard Sergeant told NPR earlier today. “Never in my life did I think it was going to happen.”
Watch the videos of Wale in Baltimore below, and listen to NPR’s radio report from the scene.