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Baltimore Unrest

Baltimore Forum Shows Freddie Gray Is Just One of Many Issues

Baltimore Residents on Why People are Protesting 1:09

It wasn't just the death of Freddie Gray frustrating the hundreds of Baltimore community members packing one of the city's most prominent churches on Tuesday night.

Sixteen-year-old Essence Harris brought many in the audience to tears as she sobbed over her friends who'd been victims of violence, inadequate teachers at her school and ongoing police harassment in her neighborhood of Mondawmin.

"I really feel like nobody cares about us, nobody cares about me," the 10th-grader said in between tears at Empowerment Temple AME Church. "It's so hard to get through school...I want to make my mother and grandmother proud of me."

Complete Coverage: Baltimore Unrest

Mondawmin was where violent protests erupted after Gray's funeral on Monday night — prompting Maryland to call in the national guard and the city to install a curfew.

But there were few mentions of Gray — the 25-year-old who died after suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody — at Tuesday night's nearly 90 minute community meeting ahead of the curfew.

Jalen Bookman, 13, was furious that the rioters' actions were overshadowing the community.

"I'm angry about the way we're being viewed as not people, the way we're being viewed as less than what we were, as less than what we can be," the 8th-grader said. "Those aren't the people that care about this city. The media only focuses on the bad and never the good."

Twenty-five-year-old CraShanda Wilson took issue with the broader issue of police brutality — saying "it's not just here in Baltimore" — while others spoke about the lack of recreation centers and issues with the mental health system.

Rev. Jamal Bryant — who delivered the eulogy at Gray's funeral — brought the forum to a close about an hour before the 10 p.m. curfew went into effect by asking those present to join hands and hold them in the air as a sign of unity and victory.

"We believe tonight starts a brand new chapter in the city of Baltimore," the pastor proclaimed. "Lift that neighbor's hand like you believe by faith none of us are going to lose as long as we stick together."

— Michael J. Feeney