Watch CBSN Live

Joseph Kent: "Keep protesting, but positively"

Prominent Baltimore activist Joseph Kent says he wants everyone to know he's alright, despite his arrest Tuesday evening as Baltimore's curfew was going into effect.

He was released late Wednesday and gave his first media interview to CBSN Thursday morning, saying he was undeterred by the arrest and planned to return to the streets to "keep the peace."

Later on Thursday, Kent, 21, met with reporter Ines Novacic at his home, and they walked the streets of his neighborhood.

Baltimore protester Joseph Kent speaks for first time after arrest

"I know a lot of people want to know if I'm okay and are worried and stuff, so I'm just going to go around here and let everybody know that everything is good and keep protesting, but positively," he said.

Cameras rolled as Kent had friendly chats with police officers.

He said he has supporters within the police department and a good relationship with many officers. "At the end of the day, all police aren't bad, but all of them aren't good, either," he remarked.

Kent is a well known civil rights organizer in Baltimore who gained attention during the protests there last summer over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Kent was widely credited with helping to keep those demonstrations peaceful.

He was trying to defuse tensions between police and people protesting the death of Freddie Gray Tuesday night when an armored truck pulled up and a team of National Guard troops rushed him.

"I just disappeared," Kent said of the arrest. "It happened so quickly and professionally."

The incident was captured on live TV and sparked outrage on Twitter, where some people called his arrest a "kidnapping."

Kent, who works two jobs at Mondawmin Mall and McDonald's in East Baltimore, has been a prominent figure in other protests of police brutality and has been widely credited with helping to keep those protests peaceful.

He told CBSN his message will not change despite his arrest. "Don't use this (arrest) as an excuse to have another riot," he said.

Kent, who was charged with a curfew violation, said the police commissioner recognized him and expedited his release.

Kent's high-profile activism and subsequent arrest have garnered a legion of admirers. His Instagram account has hundreds - maybe even thousands - of new followers and he says his phone has been ringing off the hook.

Kent says he is able to defuse the tensions between police and protesters because many of the people expressing anger can relate to him.

"They know where I come from," he said. "They look at me as one of them."

Gray's mysterious death from a spinal injury a week after his April 12 arrest is what sparked riots Monday - the worst the city has seen since 1968.

"Police brutality is still happening and it's a pattern," Kent said.

View CBS News In