As Baltimore burned in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, Rev. Mark Whitlock, executive director of the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, urged calm.
“Right now, we’re asking for calm heads, because if we burn a building down, it takes years, if not fifty to a hundred years, to rebuild,” Whitlock told CBS Los Angeles.
Both Whitlock and Rev. Cecil Murray have close knowledge of the rebuilding process after riots. As leaders at First AME Church in Los Angeles in the 1990s, they found themselves in the middle of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of police officers involved in the Rodney King beating. FAME was instrumental in helping rebuild the neighborhood as well.
The Murray Center has been in touch with Baltimore pastors to offer its assistance in Baltimore’s rebuilding process.
In light of the Baltimore riots, France 24, a national television news network, interviewed Murray and Whitlock about the 1992 riots. Murray described what it was like in the middle of the riots and told the French network how members of FAME protected the firemen as they put out the flames of the riot.
“Twenty-four years after the beating of Rodney King, they are still praying for victims of police brutality,” reporter Valerie Defert as she transitions to Rev. Mark Whitlock’s church in Orange County.
“Haven’t we learned anything from the past? Why do we keep going over and over and over the same incident?” Whitlock said, adding that many of his young people weren’t against the violence in Baltimore and protests elsewhere.
The 15-minute piece also talks to people who have protested against police brutality, the police and teenagers.