On Sunday evening, the legendary Prince gathered thousands for a benefit concert called "Rally 4 Peace" in Baltimore. The rally was a bold stand in solidarity with Freddie Gray and those who have protested since his death on April 19. Prince has been an active voice in the protest, and intended his show as "a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S." A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to Baltimore-based youth charities.
Throughout his set, Prince welcomed special guests on stage, including Doug E. Fresh, Miguel, Estelle and, most impressively, Baltimore's State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, a longtime fan of the High Priest of Pop. Early in the show, Prince made some brief remarks about the unrest in Baltimore.
"The system is broken," he told the crowd, according to the Baltimore Sun. "It's going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life. ... The next time I come to Baltimore I want to stay in a hotel owned by you."
Here are nine photos from the "Rally 4 Peace" that capture the power of the show.
Committed fan Luther Washington flashed his Prince tattoo while waiting outside the Royal Farms Arena, where Prince's Baltimore concert took place Sunday evening.
Three kids tried to see the "Rally 4 Peace" from outside the venue. The tickets, which ran from $22 to $497, were likely too expensive for many local Baltimore residents to attend. "Several observers noted that the residents of Sandtown-Winchester, where Freddie Gray lived, probably couldn't afford to attend the concert that was being held in their names," the Washington Post wrote.
A Baltimore police officer acted as security outside the venue. Before the show, as a small group of protesters from the Revolutionary Communist Party gathered outside the venue, the Washington Post reports that one retired police officer said, "I just can't stand it when people out and accuse us of murdering people. We don't do that."
The retired police officer was likely referring to these pamphlets that the Revolutionary Communist Party was dispersing before the show. Here, a young man reads the pamphlet.
On May 9, Prince released his bold new song, "Baltimore." The chant in the song goes, "If there ain't no justice, then there ain't no peace." It's a powerful reference to Baltimore protesters chanting, "No justice, no peace, we don't need you on our streets."
Prince's rally and song are both profound meditations on the fact that racially motivated violence keeps happening. "Nobody got in nobody's way / so I guess you could say / it was a good day / at least a little better than the day in Baltimore," Prince's song "Baltimore" goes. "Does anybody hear us pray / for Michael Brown or Freddie Gray? / Peace is more than the absence of a war." The song ends with an ominous fictional newscast from Los Angeles, a reminder that unless we change something, Baltimore will keep happening.
In addition to playing his new song, Prince played classics including "Little Red Corvette," "1999," "I Would Die 4 U," "When Doves Cry" and "Hot Thing."
"To all the families who have lost loved ones, tonight we are your servants," Prince told the crowd, as the Washington Post reported.