The Slatest

Black Lives Matter Activist DeRay Mckesson Announces He’s Running for Mayor of Baltimore

Political activist DeRay Mckesson, who made his name in Ferguson as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, announced Wednesday he is running for mayor of Baltimore. Mckesson, a Baltimore native, will run as a Democrat in the crowded mayoral race in the heavily left-leaning city.

The 30-year-old is entering the race relatively late in the game; the Democratic primary will be held on April 26. Here’s more on Mckesson and the race from the New York Times:

In a statement, Mr. Mckesson said that he was running to challenge the normal order of governing in the city. If Baltimore wants to achieve its “promise and possibility,” he wrote, “we cannot rely on traditional pathways to politics and the traditional politicians who walk that path. We have to challenge the practices that have not and will not lead to transformation …” Mr. Mckesson’s supporters herald him for helping to shed light on national issues of police abuse and misconduct. His detractors, however, tag him as an antipolice anarchist whose rhetoric helped foster spasms of protest violence in cities across the country where blacks have died at the hands of law enforcement …

Mr. Mckesson [-] faces an uphill climb. For one thing, he is diving, relatively late, into a crowded race of about a dozen candidates. Among them are prominent black leaders who include Nick J. Mosby, a city councilman and the husband of the prosecutor who is trying six police officers in the death of a young black Baltimore man last year; and Sheila Dixon, the former mayor who remains popular even though she left office after a conviction on fraud charges. David L. Warnock, a prominent businessman, also is vying for the nomination.

Update, 11:58 p.m.: In a post published Wednesday night on Medium, Mckesson elaborated on his decision to run. Calling himself “a son of Baltimore,” Mckesson described his upbringing in the city, acknowledged how unorthodox his candidacy is, and described a broad platform of reform that will go beyond the signature target of his activism, police brutality:

Like many others, I know this city’s pain. As the child of two now-recovered addicts, I have lived through the impact of addiction. I too have received the call letting me know that another life has fallen victim to the violence of our city. Like so many other residents, I have watched our city deal what seems like an endless series of challenges and setbacks. […]

It is true that I am a non-traditional candidate — I am not a former Mayor, City Councilman, state legislator, philanthropist or the son of a well-connected family. I am an activist, organizer, former teacher, and district administrator that intimately understands how interwoven our challenges and our solutions are. […]

I understand that issues of safety are more expansive than policing, and that to make the city as safe as we want it to be, we will have to address issues related to job development, job access, grade-level reading, transportation, and college readiness, amongst others.

I also understand that transparency is a core pillar of government integrity. We deserve to know where our city services — from housing and sanitation, to schools and police — are doing well and falling short. To this end, we must invest in a broad range of systems and structures of accountability and transparency, including the release of the internal audits of the Baltimore City Public School System along with annual and timely audits of all city agencies.

I am not the silver bullet for the challenges of our city — no one individual is. But together, with the right ideas, the right passion, the right people, we can take this city in a new direction.

Also Wednesday night, Baltimore-native and Wire-creator David Simon said on Twitter that he thought Mckesson could win.