With schools closed in Baltimore on Tuesday, as a result of yesterday's riots, worker-owned Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse has stepped in to help. “We’re opening the space up as a safe place for students, and giving them a free lunch,” said book buyer Cullen Nawalkowsky. She added that she regards the city’s decision to close schools as “ill-advised” since, in part, many impoverished kids rely on free school lunches.
The radical bookstore has long worked to get the message out about police brutality and poverty in the city. Now it feels the need to stay vocal, since the riots were incited, in large part, by the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Some of the books Red Emma's is currently featuring include: Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow; Radley Balko’s The Rise of the Warrior Cop; Amy Lerman and Vesla Weaver’s Arresting Citizenship; and Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olsen’s The Long Shadow, about disadvantaged kids in the city.
Last Saturday morning Red Emma’s provided free beverages and sign-making supplies before a peaceful march at Presbury and N. Mount Streets. And it has used its Facebook page to keep customers up to date about events and protests.
Other stores like the Ivy Book Shop, which is in a part of town that is relatively unaffected by the rioting, are staying open. But they have had to reschedule events. Ivy owners Ed and Ann Berlin say that the bookstore “will do everything possible to help with the rebuilding of our neighborhoods." It added: "Baltimore will survive and prosper; this tragedy ultimately will unite us.”