Amid the riots and heartbreak Baltimore is facing in the wake of Freddie Gray’s mysterious death while in police custody, Dimitri Reeves has brought some light to a dark situation — and done so by channeling the King of Pop.
Videos of Reeves performing Michael Jackson classics like “Man in the Mirror” and “Beat It” in front of riot police have gone viral, to the point that he’s become commonly known as the “Michael Jackson Protester.”
“We try to show positivity,” Reeves tells Rolling Stone. “We actually go to the hood areas and try to show love and support for those who are less fortunate and those who just need their minds taken off the negativity.”
In the above footage, Reeves and his manager, Vaughan Mason, take RS around Baltimore, the city the singer and dancer loves and wants to help heal with his optimism. Mason specifically gives details on his performance set-up, giving a tour of the truck that Reeves performs on top of to get maximum visibility around the city. As shown in the clip, Reeves’ energetic takes on the pop songs — complete with his best Eddie Van Halen impression during “Beat It” — can be a bit strenuous on his body, though he doesn’t mind. “I’m sore. My knee hurts. My back hurts. Everything hurts!” he says. “But it’s worth it to see smiles on their faces.”
Even as Reeves participates in the protests, the performer is highly against the violence, noting how acts like “burning things and ripping things down” only serve to heighten the tension between civilians and the police. Instead, he wants to focus people on the good that can come out of a bad situation. “I see a bright light at the end of the tunnel,” says Reeves. “You have to go through hell to get to heaven.”