By David A. Graham
If you’ve heard of Joseph Kent, you probably only learned his name in the last couple of days. Late Tuesday night, a CNN camera caught a spooky video of Kent being arrested in Baltimore: As Kent walked in the street, a humvee drove between him and the camera, just as a line of police lunged at the young man. Then he wasn’t heard from again for 24 hours. Talib Kweli tweeted a demand to know where he was, and Kent’s name trended on Twitter. Dark conspiracy theories suggested he’d been kidnapped or disappeared.
It turned out that Kent, a 21-year-old student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, was waiting in a holding cell in the city jail. The facility was so crowded with people swept up by police during unrest that he hadn’t been booked, which meant his name wasn’t in the jail’s system yet and so no one could find him. His attorney, Steve Beatty, was able to locate him Wednesday and to get him released on his own recognizance that night.
Kent is, in fact, more easily recognizable in Baltimore. City Paper, the local alternative weekly, profiled him in November 2014, in a piece about how the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, was creating a new cohort of civic leaders. Reporter Baynard Woods recounted Kent maintaining peace during a tense situation, near the end of a march in Baltimore protesting a grand jury’s decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson for Michael Brown’s death:
“We been peaceful all day, and now everybody want to show your ass,” Joseph Kent, a 21-year-old student from Morgan State University, said from the center of the crowd near the end of Tuesday’s protests over the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. “We’re not here for that.”