ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Eighteen-year-old Laurell Glenn has been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between the police and her community in West Baltimore. She has ties to both police and protesters. Youth Radio sent us her reflections.
LAURELL GLENN: They say you're either with us or against us. Everyone in my life is constantly asking me to pick a side. I wish I didn't have to choose sides. My friends are totally against the police because they think cops are all out to get them. On the other hand, my cousin is a police officer and also a single mother of three. Not a single day goes by that I don't worry about her safety. I admire her for putting her life on the line for people who don't respect her, but I am a young person living in Baltimore city, and I do understand that my community has every reason to be upset. I would never throw a rock at a cop, but I can see why someone else would.
When the first peaceful protest in Baltimore turned violent, my family and I sat down and watched CNN together. My mom said, this isn't the way. While we were watching, I was on Facebook arguing with my friends. I told them that violence wasn't the way and that it would just add more to our problems. My friends said, well, you're against the cause. I understand why they would feel this way because of the bad history with police in our community. Young people like me want to feel safe and be able to trust the people who are there to protect us. Last week, my school participated in a peaceful student rally for justice for Freddie Gray. We also marched to combat all the bad publicity about Baltimore teens. We wanted to prove that we aren't delinquents and that we actually care about our city. It was the first time I participated in a rally, and it felt good.
Then news of the charges against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray came out. I was proud to have done my small part by participating in the peaceful march. What's next for me? I'll continue to protest. I want my cousin to know that I respect that she has chosen to try to make our city safe, but to do that, we need to build a better relationship between the police and the people of our community. This is the civil rights movement of my generation, and I want my voice in it.
SIEGEL: Laurell Glenn lives in West Baltimore and is part of Wide Angle Youth Media. Her essay was produced by Youth Radio.
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