Behind the scenes of the response to the Baltimore riots, the White House is working to recruit celebrities to deliver a message of peace to their citizens.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed a Baltimore Sun report that the administration had reached out to a number of celebrities with ties to the Baltimore area, but declined to detail specifics.
NBA star Carmelo Anthony, who plays for the Knicks, and NFL star Ray Lewis, a recently retired player for the Ravens, were two high profile athletes who’ve made public appearances in the city.
“There’s a role for people like Ray Lewis who’s obviously a well respected member of the Baltimore community,” Earnest said, “And it means a lot to have somebody like him standing up and saying ‘I’m concerned about this incident too, but I’m also committed to making sure I communicate my concerns in public but I do so peacefully.’”
Lewis even canceled his previously scheduled appearance on ESPN’s broadcast of the NFL draft, choosing instead to remain in Baltimore to help out.
“I felt that it was more important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love,” Lewis said in a statement released by ESPN. “I greatly appreciate ESPN’s understanding and flexibility at this late date. I did not feel right leaving the city at this time.”
Earnest admitted that other prominent Baltimore residents had been contacted by members of the administration, encouraging the public to remain peaceful.