By Dameon Byrd Jr., Special to the AFRO

Malaika Aminata, a Morgan State University graduate who has lived in Baltimore for the majority of her adult life, wanted the world to see what they were not being shown about Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death last April and the subsequent uprising.

“We all know when it’s time to do something”, she said. For her, it was creating the new documentary “Not About a Riot.” The film covers the massive protest that took place in Baltimore in the spring of 2015, following the death Gray. While in police custody Gray suffered severe injuries that lead to his death.


An image from the documentary ‘Not About a Riot.’

His death came only eight months after the death of a young Mike Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The civil unrest that followed, known to locals as the “Baltimore Uprising,” drew the attention of national media coverage which focused in on images of looting and the Maryland National Guard posted in various places around the city.

To counteract that narrative, Aminata’s film highlights prayer circles, pop-up stoop concerts, and peaceful protests that were going on at the same time. Amongst these images are raw and unfiltered interviews directly from the people that were experiencing everything from being shot with bean bag guns to tear gas bombs. “My intention is not for my voice to be heard but people whose voices aren’t usually heard,” Aminata said.

In the middle of what was closer to a war zone she managed to stay safe. “Whenever you care about something, safety is not always something that comes to mind; in the mist of it, it’s not even a horizon,” she said.

It has been one year since the events of last April. Asked if she had seen any changes Aminata said, “I think so, I think that the people who were most passionate about wanting to change things have found each other and that they can find support in one another, and that matters.”

Aminata draws her inspiration from Reverend Douglas Sands whose work in the civil rights movement during the 1960’s helped to desegregate the Northwood Community of north east Baltimore. While still a student at Morgan State University, Aminata wrote a paper on Reverend Sands and his methods. He told her “The key to making a change is to get people to talk to one another” and so she has been doing just that.

Aminata’s hopes are that her film will bring people together, and create dialog with different people who may not encounter each other on the regular basis, enabling them to work towards positive solutions. To that end, there have been several gallery exhibitions in Baltimore of artwork inspired by the movie.

“Not About a Riot” will be playing May 1 at Impact Hub, 10 E North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21218. For more information go to .