Reflecting on the Baltimore Unrest

Sharon Krieger and Terrence
Sharon Krieger and Terrence

A story from the Samaritan Community by Peter Dunn

By all accounts, Tuesday, April 10, 2015 seemed to be a typical morning at the weekly Breakfast Club at The Samaritan Community.

Eggs and grits sizzled on the stove, the smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the air, silverware clattered as it was placed around a large square table, and friends chatted with and embraced one another.

In reality, though, it was anything but typical. It was the morning after the most intense unrest and violence Baltimore had seen in decades. The neighborhoods and homes of many members of Samaritan Community were either damaged or destroyed.

Around the breakfast table, members talked about the issues behind the violence, what it meant for the city, and of course, how they were personally affected by it all. One of those members was a kind and compassionate man, Terrence.

Terrence, a carpenter by trade, first came to Samaritan Community more than decade ago. He faced a job loss and needed carpentry tools in order to find work. With the help of Sharon Krieger, founder and program director of the 40-year old Bolton Hill emergency assistance non-profit, he was able to get the tools he needed and a job in which to use them.

“From time to time, I’ll hit a snag, and Sharon is always there for me, no matter what,” he says. “Everyone in the neighborhood knows Sharon and the gang at Samaritan, and we’d do anything for her.”

But on one of the darkest nights in Baltimore’s history, it was Terrence who was there for his neighbors and community, no matter what. When the unrest started, a group of young men looted Belle Hardware in Bolton Hill.

Using the tools they stole, they broke into the store on the ground floor of Terrence’s apartment building. Out of fear that the men might try to set fire to the building, Terrence and a few other neighbors confronted the men and successfully drove them away.

Later that night, Terrence ran into one of the looters whom he had confronted earlier. Terrence recounts that the young man admitted to getting caught up “in the fever” of it all and regretted his actions.

With all of the violence Terrence saw that night and its devastating effects, it would be easy to be angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. But, that’s not how Terrence feels at all.

Quite the opposite, actually. In reflection, he now sees those events as a catalyst for becoming a stronger and closer neighborhood.

“The up side of the events last April was that it brought the neighborhood even closer together. Regardless of color, we all pitched in to protect our neighborhood and clean up in the aftermath,” Terrence recalls. “The news portrayed things as all falling along race lines, but that wasn’t our experience. We are one neighborhood and we are even tighter now than before.”

The Samaritan Community welcomes both volunteers and donations.

Find out more at the Samaritan Community website.