A Baltimore vigil honoring the black victim of an accused white killer’s racist manhunt turned into a shouting match Saturday night between demonstrators and hecklers offended by the “Black Lives Matter” banners.
White protesters carrying the signs gathered in the Baltimore neighborhood of James Jackson to denounce the accused killer’s racist stalking swing that ended in the fatal Midtown Manhattan stabbing of an elderly black man.
Horrified residents tried to paint a more inclusive picture of the city’s Hampden section, which is also home to Jackson, 28, who told police he boarded a bus in Maryland en route to New York on a sick mission to target black men before settling on Timothy Caughman, and stabbing him to death last week a 2-foot sword.
But the vigil, outside the St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, also drew hecklers annoyed that the neighborhood group would align itself with the “Black Lives Matter” movement
“Idiots,” one driver shouted as he drove past the gathering.
“All lives matter,” shouted another dissenter.
“If they did,” a protester retorted, “he wouldn’t be dead.”
Baltimore resident Megan Kenny said the neighborhood has a dubious history.
“There is something about Hampden that racist people feel comfortable here,” Kenny said.
In a city where the population is more than 60% black, nearly 79% of the neighborhood’s residents are white, according to demographic statistics from Baltimore’s department of health.
St. Luke’s pastor, Vicar Jim Muratore, said he is “ashamed” of Hampden’s past.
“We cannot ignore the history that cultivated Hampden’s reputation as a neighborhood to which African American people do not go,” Muratore said in a Facebook post.
“That has begun to change, but we still have a long road ahead of us. Hampden was a stronghold for the Ku Klux Klan for generations. Landlords bought up houses to keep out ‘the blacks.’ Even our own church hosted black-face minstrel shows as a popular event for the community. Yes. That’s racist.”
Protesters expressed their condolences for the victim.
“This horror began right here,” Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke told the group.
“We are ashamed, distressed and in sympathy with his family in New York. We came here to change people who hate like that.”