Pastor Jamal Bryant, head of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, announced Monday that he will be running for Congress in Maryland’s 7th District. Bryant gained national attention earlier this year after leading protests following the death of Freddie Gray and delivering an emotional eulogy at Gray’s funeral.
Over the weekend, some speculated Bryant would be running for mayor after current Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced she would not be seeking reelection. Rawlings-Blake came under scrutiny when riots tore through Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray.
“Meet me at 10 a.m. at 1505 Eutaw Place for my political announcement relative to the vision for this region,” Bryant tweeted on Sunday.
On Monday morning, Bryant announced at a press conference that he would be running for the congressional seat which is currently held by long-time incumbent Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cummings has represented the district since 1996.
Cummings has been silent about his plans for 2016. There have been rumors, however, of a run for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat that will be vacant when Sen. Barbara Mikulski retires.
Bryant played a leading role in the Ferguson protests last year after teenager Michael Brown was shot by police. During a demonstration in front of the Police Department in Ferguson, Bryant was arrested for assaulting police officers and disturbing the peace with other local church leaders.
In May, Bryant led a protest that shut down major roads in Baltimore city during morning traffic. The protest was in opposition to plans of building a $30 million youth detention center.
“Education is better than incarceration,” he said after the protest. “When you put these dollars in education, you will see a transformation take place.”
Bryant has been a preacher and social activist for years but would like to shift his focus to public policy.
“After the Freddie Gray uprising, the proliferation of police brutality across this nation, the lack of jobs, widespread poverty and hopelessness throughout our urban areas, I decided that leading a successful congregation and building a great church is not enough. I want to contribute to public policy in Washington,” Bryant said in a press release Monday.