Lexington Market is in downtown Baltimore, a stone's throw from the financial district. The stalls sell soul food, east Asian cuisine and bread; there are also tobacconists, book stalls and jewellers. The covered market, which was established in 1782, will soon be razed and replaced. The developers have promised existing vendors will be able to relocate to the new building. The ostensible aim of the project is to ‘invite more diverse vendors and pull in a broader swath of Baltimore residents’. Most of the people who shop, eat and hang out there are working-class African Americans; it’s hard not to conclude that the ‘broader swath’ the developers hope to attract are affluent white people.
The National Guard was unleashed on Baltimore yesterday to quell unrest following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died of injuries sustained in police custody. On 12 April, Gray was pinned to the pavement by officers before being loaded into a police van. When he was taken out of it his spine was ‘80 per cent severed’, according to the family’s lawyer. He spent a week in a coma and died on 19 April. On Saturday I went to join a protest due to start at the corner of Presbury and North Mount streets. On my way there from the subway station I passed an alleyway with four police cars in it, their lights flashing. The cops appeared to be questioning people. A group of residents, all black, stood at the entrance to the alley, their phone cameras trained on the police.