In case you missed it (which seems rather implausible at this point), community activist PFK Boom recently “confronted” Pastor Jamal Bryant of the People’s Empowerment Temple at the 148th “West Wednesday,” the series of police brutality protests organized by the family of Tyrone West, the man killed July 18, 2013 while in police custody. Video of Boom’s verbal evisceration of Bryant (with a pithy freestyle assist from rapper and activist Shy Lady Heroin) went viral almost instantly.
Here’s the condensed version of the encounter; Boom: “We don’t want you nowhere in our city yo…the streets don’t want you here!” Bryant: “Okay.”
Bryant provided a more expansive response a couple of days later during the Friday night radio show on WEAA, “Listen Up!” hosted by Faraji Muhammad.
“I went down there as a pastor and let me say Faraji, I was the only pastor there. There was no cameras there, there were 40 people there. And I went down there, again I was not on program, I was not on schedule I was just there to support,” Bryant said in reference to his presence at Gilmore Homes during the West protest on May 25. “When I was leaving, an hour and 15 minutes later, I was accosted by the young lady (Heroin)…and she said, `Are you leaving?’ I said, yeah, I got to go…she says, `Okay, can you wait one minute?’ I said, sure,” Bryant explained. “Then, she brings over the gentleman and without warning, he goes into a full barrage. It was amazing Faraji, I videotaped him speaking and in his speech he says, `You all talk about us coming to the church, but the church never comes to us.’ And I’m there, the church becomes visible and tries to be a part,” Bryant added.
“The rest of it plays itself out as everybody has seen now all over the media. And I think it’s just very unfortunate that people who are really working towards the same end would find themselves accosted. Baltimore police were there and he (Boom) doesn’t have that same venom towards them, but against me.”
Since last week’s incident between Boom and Bryant, the pastor’s supporters and grassroots activists aligned, or who identify with Boom, have been going back and forth via social media.
Five people were shot at a Memorial Day cookout in North Baltimore, the homicide rate is at 108 as of May 28, and the massive billion-dollar Port Covington development deal steams full speed ahead, essentially unchecked.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” a long-time community activist told me on background in response to the Boom, Bryant controversy. “Everybody knows he (Bryant) loves the spotlight, that’s nothing new…but, we act like we got (activist community) ADHD, too much fu@*ery going on,” the source said.
To deny the many good works Jamal Bryant and his church have contributed to many of the most disenfranchised communities in the city would be unwise. But, I saw more than a few people via social media (where everybody seems to be a tough guy or a psychiatrist) attempt to dismiss Boom as, “mentally ill,” because of the ferocity of his verbal attack upon Bryant.
Let’s be clear; if chronic stress, depression, PTSD, bipolar disease, schizophrenia and racism are mental illnesses (and they are!), then about 95 percent of Baltimore City is mentally ill.
Ultimately, there is a tremendous amount of anger aimed at Baltimore’s political infrastructure, otherwise known more broadly as the establishment. And in the minds of many, even beyond the grass roots activists like Boom, Bryant is a card carrying member.
I’ve said it before, but we dismiss the rage of those who have been systematically oppressed, ignored and set aside for generations at our own peril.
Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m. on WEAA 88.9.