BALTIMORE, Md. — A prominent black Christian leader who works with youth is decrying the Baltimore riots that destroyed parts of the city on Monday, and is calling upon the nation to address the spiritual and domestic root of the problem instead of fueling unnecessary racial tension.
Businesses throughout Baltimore went up in flames last night after protesters broke out in an angry rampage throughout the streets following the funeral of Freddy Gray, a 25-year-old with a long rap sheet who died earlier this month from spinal injuries following an arrest.
Windows were smashed, liquor stores and other establishments were looted, and cars were overturned and set on fire. Reports state that some protesters cut holes in the Baltimore Fire Department’s hose as they sought to put out the flames that engulfed a CVS store, and a brand new nursing home that had been built for elderly residents was also destroyed in the violence.
Over a dozen police officers were injured after protesters–mainly teenage youth—decided to throw chunks of cinder blocks, rocks, bottles and sticks at law enforcement. Some carried baseball bats and pipes. One officer was reportedly found unresponsive while others suffered broken bones or cuts.
The violence became so severe that the National Guard was called in to patrol the city, and Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency.
“Today’s acts of looting and violence in Baltimore will not be tolerated,” he declared in a statement. “[T]here is a significant difference between protesting and violence.”
Jesse Lee Peterson, a California pastor, president of the organization BOND (the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny), and leader of the BOND Leadership Academy for youth likewise told Christian News Network that he found it ironic that the protesters decried perceived police violence by being violent.
“These people are out there protesting what they call violence with violence,” Peterson lamented. “That’s not the way to solve a problem.”
“They’re not gaining the sympathy of the American people with these types of actions—by burning and looting and hurting police officers and throwing rocks at cops,” he continued. “If anything, they’re turning the people away from them.”
Peterson said that he found the disrespect for authority on the streets to be astounding.
“Did you ever think that in America you would see thugs throw rocks and stones at police officers, and the officers are running away?” he asked.
But Peterson said that the anger that spilled out onto the streets of Baltimore on Monday did not begin just yesterday; it began years ago in their own families.
“The anger that you see in black men, … it started in the home first,” he explained. “They’re angry that their fathers are not there for them—because the father is the spiritual head of of his wife and children. The father is the love of the family, and when that’s gone, it creates anger.”
The California minister and radio host said that many youth turn that anger into criminal activity.
“[M]ost if not all of these black men who are getting in trouble with police officers today, they have criminal records. They’re running away from cops; they’re attacking cops; they’re not following the instructions of the officers,” Peterson outlined. “And you don’t hear any of these so-called black leaders or liberal media folk talk about that at all.”
Instead, he stated, black youth who are already bitter from growing up in single parent homes are indoctrinated to believe that white people are out to suppress them.
“Instead of dealing with that anger that starts in the home first, you have these race hustlers and poverty pimps and socialist liberals telling them that it’s white racism,” Peterson said, remarking that he believes those such as Barack Obama and Al Sharpton are perpetuating untruths. “And because these kids are in a state of anger separated from God [and] separated from their fathers, they can’t see a lie from the truth.”
And as a result, they act out in the streets, including in the manner they did in Baltimore on Monday.
“The problem is not the police officers,” Peterson stated. “The problem is the destruction of the family, the lack of moral character, the lack of respect for authority and [the lack of respect for] other people’s property.”
Peterson opined that until Christians start being a light in the world and urge youth—including black youth—to come to faith and repentance in Christ, matters will only continue to deteriorate in our nation.
“[I]f Christians don’t deal with what the real problem is, evil is only going to get worse. It’s not going to stop,” he said. “It takes the truth to defeat evil. Not fear and not a lie.”