Friday 30 September 2016

Baltimore protesters accuse police of 'kidnapping' student campaigner Joseph Kent live on air

Adam Withnall

Published 29/04/2015 | 12:47

Protesters have called on police to "release" a prominent student campaigner in Baltimore after footage was aired of him appearing to be bundled into a van by the US National Guard live on TV.

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Identified locally as 21-year-old Joseph Kent, social media users claimed police had targeted a man who was organising and addressing protesters peacefully at the time, as well as at the speed and abruptness of what they called his “kidnapping”.

As of last night there was no indication where Kent was being held, prompting Twitter users to ask the question: “Where is Joseph Kent?”

The footage, which was aired by CNN, showed Kent on the street half an hour after curfew.

According to his LinkedIn page, Kent is a music student at Morgan State University and works as a campus administrative assistant in his spare time.

Read more: 10 things you don't know - and won't hear - about the Baltimore Riots

He has featured prominently in civil action before, and was credited with organising Baltimore’s local protests against the Ferguson shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, according to a report on Heavy.com.

Speaking to the Baltimore City Paper in November last year, he said that “everyone knows me at Morgan already… [for] making sure everything is running peaceful[ly] and everything like that”.

“So, everybody already knows I'm going to do things the right way, so when everybody else and community people and civilians and people who joined and saw that the Morgan students were looking up to it, before you knew it, the whole city was on my back and I was just carrying the whole city.”

There has been a growing reaction to Kent’s apparent arrest on social media.

'I want the white media out of Baltimore until you're here to report the real story'  

Baltimore has erupted into protests in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died under mysterious circumstances of a spinal-cord injury while in police custody.

The city has enforced a 10pm curfew after a night of intense rioting on Monday, and called in the National Guard for the first time since unrest at the assassination of Rev Martin Luther King Jr in 1968.

Watch: Senate leader criticises Fox News for 'inciting people' on live broadcast  

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