The city of Baltimore’s mayoral race is a crowded one that just received a high-profile addition. Current Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake chose not to run again after heavy criticism of she handled civil unrest, so a new mayor will soon take charge. Back in April 2015, Black Lives Matter demonstrators took to the streets following Freddie Gray’s death from brutal injuries while in police custody. After Gray’s funeral, mobs of protesters participated in violent clashes, and these riots and demonstrations exposed systemic inequalities of the city and its criminal justice system.
This election has revolved largely upon racial inequalities in a predominantly black city, and a last minute entry into the race will bring more attention to the cause. On Wednesday night, Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson threw his hat into the ring at the last possible moment. Only minutes before the deadline, Mckesson hopped into the democratic race. Mckesson, a Baltimore native, has stood as a prominent figure in the national Black Lives Matter movement. Though he faces stiff and plentiful competition, his entry stands as a powerful statement:
The Democratic victor of the primary on April 26 is almost assured of winning the general election for an office that the party has controlled for nearly half a century.
Mr. Mckesson, 30, has been something of a divisive figure. He rose to prominence in the movement that emerged after a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. Mr. Mckesson was quickly on the ground in Missouri, providing sharp, continuous Twitter missives challenging what he and many saw as a racist law enforcement regime that not only killed Mr. Brown, but was also engaging in violent clashes with protesters.
McKesson’s bid for mayor lands in an already chock-full race, but his entry into the field stands as a symbolic gesture of taking the city back. Speaking to the Baltimore Sun, McKesson said the time for change is now: “Baltimore is a city of promise and possibility. We can’t rely on traditional pathways to politics and the traditional politicians who walk those paths if we want transformational change.” This news will make for an interesting few months before the April 26 primary election.