By Robert Stitt
Joseph Kent is known as the “Martin Luther King Jr. with tattoos and gold teeth.” This title was bestowed upon him after his role in the peaceful protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown. At the time, he was a 21-year-old music student at Morgan State University.
Mr. Kent, now considered a prominent activist, joined the recent protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray on April 19 from spinal cord injuries suffered during an arrest and improper transportation by the police department.
On Tuesday, CNN was showing live footage of police officers lined up outside as Kent stood with his hands up in from of them. An armored vehicle then drives right next to Kent, partially blocking the cameras from view of him. Kent is then briefly seen being pounced on by National Guardsmen.
Twitter was abuzz with people wanting to know what happened and Joseph Kent’s whereabouts, since the live television apprehension of a peaceful protestor by armed forces was all but overlooked by the CNN reporters that were standing right there filming.
The Baltimore city website notes that Baltimore protests were not all peaceful, and after the riots on Monday resulted in extensive property damage and injured police officers, the Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, issued a city-wide curfew on April 28 starting at 10 p.m.
The curfew had a number of details:
- applies to all citizens except emergency personnel and those commuting to and from work
- essential operation employees are to have valid ID
- drivers and individuals may be stopped and arrested if they violate the terms of the curfew
A rundown of prohibited conduct during the curfew was listed:
- no person within the city of Baltimore may be in a public place during the curfew period
- no person within the city of Baltimore may engage in a march, parade, assembly, or demonstration on a public place during the curfew period, or outside the curfew period without a permit
It appears that Kent was out after the curfew and “subject to arrest,” but that does not change the very odd circumstances of this forceful abduction on national television.
Kent was released late Wednesday and provided an interview for CBS News. “I know a lot of people want to know if I’m okay and are worried and stuff, so I’m just going to go around here and let everybody know that everything is good and keep protesting, but positively,” he told a reporter.
He said that he has friends within the police department who were able to help him out. “At the end of the day, all police aren’t bad, but all of them aren’t good, either,” he said.
He briefly spoke about the spooky manor in which he was arrested on Tuesday. “I just disappeared,” Kent explained. “It happened so quickly and professionally.”
He was charged with curfew violation, but after a police commissioner recognized him, his release was expedited.