After release from jail, Joseph Kent prominent in Friday demonstrations

Joseph Kent, the activist who was dramatically snatched up by authorities on CNN Tuesday night, was out and active at the celebrations and protests on Friday.

Early in the day—after Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's announcement that all six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray would be indicted—Kent was a prominent figure at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues in a black hoodie and skullcap, marching around the intersection holding up a sign that read "#ILove Baltimore #AllLivesMatter!! #Believe#Freddie Gray." 

"This here is a celebration, but it's still not over yet," he said as car horns and cheers overlapped in a jubilant cacophony. 

Later, during the march from downtown to Penn North and back, he was standing up on the back of a moving scooter, holding his sign and wearing the East Coast Bail Bonds shirt which many of the organizers were wearing yesterday. The front reads "I Bleed Baltimore." 

Kent is something of a mysterious figure, however. When I reported on him extensively in the fall, he consistently claimed to be a Morgan State University student, but as Amira Hairston (a City Paper intern) reported in the MSU Spokeman earlier in the week, the university's president said "He is not a student and never was a student," though he was "an intern in a Morgan business program for about six months last year."

When he first gained national attention as he was swept away on national television, I tweeted out what longtime organizer Heber Brown had said of him in the fall—that he was "MLK with tattoos and gold fronts"—and the reverend tweeted back "Yea. Wish, the brother would have stayed connected after the Michael Brown demonstrations here."

Other activists had said they also had not heard from him and when I had tried to contact him several weeks prior, his number was not working.  

When I asked where he had been, Kent said he had been working two jobs, one retail and the other at a McDonald's. 

Now he is back in full effect. At the demonstration at City Hall, Kent could often be seen at center stage, leading chants or singing. Last Saturday, the song of the protests was Lil' Boosie's "Fuck the Police," and especially the refrain "Without that badge you a bitch and a half/ Fuck the police, Fuck the police." But this Friday, Kent reintroduced the song that defined the #BaltimoreFerguson protests in which he was so prominent in the fall. "I got a feeling, I got a feeling, somebody's trying to hold me back, and there ain't gonna be no shit like that," Kent sang, the crowd of a couple hundred joining in.

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