Helena Hix, 81, stood at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues taking in the scene and thinking about a time decades ago.
On Friday afternoon, a raucous celebration marked with dancing, chanting and a cacophony of car horns erupted at the intersection over criminal charges being filed against six Baltimore police officers related to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. The jubilation was a marked contrast to just a few days ago, when the intersection was the epicenter of rioting and looting in West Baltimore.
A charred CVS Pharmacy at the northeast corner of the intersection and police decked out in riot gear served as a reminder of the recent unrest. But to Hix, all the damage and rage of earlier in the week were far away. She was thinking about another significant moment in history.
“I’m just happy. It reminds me of being in Washington [D.C.] in ’63, marching,” Hix said.
For others who attended the celebration the moment was more about the future.
Crystal Albarado, 30, stood at the intersection with her 3-year-old daughter Isha, her fists raised high in the air as she chanted, “Justice for peace.” She said that she wanted her children to be there because she thinks it’s important for the next generation to be a part of this moment.
She also said charges against the officers, which included murder and manslaughter counts, were a good start. But she also acknowledged it was just the beginning of a long process.
“A charge is a charge, but we need a full prosecution,” Albarado said.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who was elected in part because of frustration with her predecessor not filing charges against police during other incidents, said during a news conference that she intends to pursue a full prosecution.
“No one is above the law,” Mosby told reporters.
The long legal fight ahead doesn’t intimidate Hix.
“Until I close my eyes I’ll be fighting for justice for my people,” she said.