By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]

I wouldn’t liken the plight of our city to a fictional Marvel movie in a cavalier way, because the thick fog of murder, mayhem and political skullduggery, which engulfs our city is very real.

So, bare with me.

Two years ago I was honored to attend the Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS, the city’s Black grassroots think tank) first Policy Summit in Philadelphia. And I wrote about the two-day summit (albeit cryptically) in this column. I was in attendance again in Nov. 2019 for the second LBS Policy Summit. When I think about our city in November 2017, juxtaposed to where we are now, and I can’t help but think of Col. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Sean Yoes

At the end of the Marvel movie, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Fury said to Scarlett Johanson’s character Natasha “The Black Widow” Romanoff, “Trouble Ms. Romanoff. No matter who wins or loses, trouble still comes around.”

Indeed, trouble never seems to go away and the losses keep piling up in Baltimore’s mostly Black, mostly poor neighborhoods.

I posted the original LBS Policy Summit story Nov. 16, 2017, the same day Baltimore Police Department (BPD) Det. Sean Suiter was gunned down in West Baltimore. The consensus on the street was and is Suiter was murdered, the day before he was to testify in the case of the Gun Trace Task Force. In Nov. 2019, the BPD has closed the Suiter case declaring his death a suicide. However, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, led by Marilyn Mosby said, not so fast; the case is an, “open and pending matter,” according to Mosby.

Nov. 16, 2017, Suiter was listed as the 309th homicide of the year. As of Nov. 12, 2019, we stand at 297 murders.

All this to say, the consensus of the 2017 LBS Summit was the same as the consensus of the 2019 version; we are at war.

Besides me, many of the participants from the 2017 LBS gathering were back (this time on the campus of Morgan State University) in this year. And in addition to the “We are at war” refrain,” perhaps the most repeated mantra was, “This is a safe space.” And so, you will hear no details of what transpired during last weekend’s arduous Summit.

But, to be clear the more efficacy the grassroots community displays, the seemingly more treacherous their enemies become. In the war room setting people named names of individuals and entities, who craft and wield anti-Black agendas.

We talked about Maryland’s shifting political landscape, we discussed many of the major players in Baltimore’s ubiquitous non-profit industrial complex. We talked about the phalanx of insidious and overt Black gatekeepers, who work against the interest and liberation of Black people. And of course we crafted strategy.

Baltimore’s grassroots community leaders are brilliant, determined, resilient and driven by their love of this city and its people; these characteristics tie them together. But, they are diverse in many ways. Some are strictly policy people, others are old school street fighters, many are a combination of both. But, the bottom line is the work they do saves lives.

They shine light on the forces, unseemly to diabolical, which thrive on the chaos, confusion and injustice that enslaves so many in this city. 

In Nov. 2017, I wrote about the LBS Summit the following:

The work of dismantling structural racism in Baltimore is always daunting and often maddening. But, there is a small army of Black people, people of color, men and women, LGBTQ and straight, Millennial to Gen X and beyond, who are fighting ferociously and strategically for liberation in Baltimore and beyond. Black people, poor and disenfranchised people, all people concerned about justice and racial equity in our beloved city and around the globe should be encouraged by their existence.

Because trouble for our people seems to never go away.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.