As a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, Lamontre Randall was accused of armed robbery by a white, female student. To his fellow students, friends and family, the accusation could not have been more ridiculous.
As a leader on campus and in his native Baltimore, Randall had been working behind the scenes to empower those around him since starting his own organization at 16. But to the police, it seemed he was just another black man accused of armed robbery, so he was thrown in a cell.
He was later released and all charges were dropped, but the message to him was loud and clear: There is a lot of work to do.
Two years later, the work has been nonstop. He was recently appointed to serve as the chairman of Baltimore's first Police Youth Advisory Board, an accountability body assembled in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death at the hands of Baltimore police officers.
In a progressive move, the Baltimore Police Department acknowledged the major disconnect between the community and those tasked with serving and protecting it. After that, it didn't take long for the department to find Randall, who had previously served as his district's youth commissioner.
The board's mission is to restore trust in the police by genuinely bringing officers closer to the community. In a city at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement and ongoing police tension and violence, the urgency to rebuild and repair this relationship is paramount.
One member of the board Elite Daily spoke to, a 24-year old community leader and mother of two, said she hoped to find solutions before her young, black boys become hashtags.
Randall finds himself in the middle of an ongoing struggle, trapped in the age of internet 'slacktivism,' surrounded by peers who are satisfied composing tweets and Facebook statuses as daily acts of social change. He knows it's not enough.
He spends day and night working with kids in Baltimore through his organization The BeMore Group, teaching them how to save and invest their money to build wealth, physically cleaning the streets with them so they'll respect their neighborhoods and preparing food for the homeless.
As he puts it, he's instilling a sense of community in the young kings and queens, showing them they can truly be more.
He is also using his organization to urge the police department to implement his proposal for “Millennials on the Ground,” a team of young people who will accompany police officers as they approach citizens, helping to neutralize confrontations without resorting to violence.
It's a short-term solution for ending violence while he and his supporters continue the work of uniting the community and its police. They hope to serve as a model for the rest of the country as communities nationwide attempt to heal the same ruptured relationships, and begin to move forward.