Freddie Gray killed, big protests in Baltimore, USA


Rally in Baltimore against killing of Freddie Gray

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

27 April 2015

Thirty-four people were arrested and six police officers were injured over the weekend after thousands marched against police brutality through downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The protest on Saturday had been called nearly a week after Freddie Gray, a young African-American man, died from injuries sustained after being beaten by police in West Baltimore.

The protest, which had been called by a coalition of local activist groups and was largely peaceful, was the largest in a series of demonstrations against police violence that have swept the city since Gray succumbed to his injuries last week.

On Sunday, thousands of people attended a wake for Gray, who will be buried today.

A group of protesters broke away from the main march on Saturday and began committing minor acts of vandalism to storefronts and police vehicles. Police responded by sending out helmeted officers to detain protesters and break up the march. Clashes between protesters and police continued throughout the night in parts of West Baltimore, near the area where Gray was beaten and killed.

The number of police flooding the streets over the weekend was comparable to the total number of demonstrators. Baltimore Police Chief Anthony W. Batts mobilized over 1,200 policemen. He made the ludicrous claim that deploying police across the city would safeguard protesters’ right of “peaceful expression.”

On Saturday night, a photographer from the Baltimore City Paper was arrested and beaten by police in front of the Western District Police Station. “They mobilized,” photographer J.M. Giordano reported of the ordeal as he and a bystander were swept up by heavily armed police amid a demonstration. “They just swarmed over me… I got hit. My head hit the ground. They were hitting me, then someone pulled me out,” he said.

Sait Serkan Gurbuz, a photojournalist for Reuters, was arrested by police at the same time.

Freddie Gray was beaten by Baltimore police April 12 after reportedly making eye contact with an officer and then fleeing. Six policemen gave chase and restrained the youth in a position which severely injured his spine. Gray was then tossed into the back of a police van and driven across town unrestrained by safety belts for over a half hour before being given medical help. The city has refused to release the names of the police officers involved, while suspending each with pay, pending an investigation.

At the protest on Saturday, representatives of local activist groups tied to the Democrats took turns making explicit appeals to leading Democratic Party figures. Malik Z. Shabazz, head of one of the event’s organizers, Black Lawyers for Justice, appealed to Barack Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder, and even demanded that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential elections, come to address her “black Democratic voters” at the march.

Democratic Party officials, however, took the lead in praising the police. “I think they are doing the best they can under the circumstances,” said US Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, referring to the Baltimore police force, adding that the march had been disturbed by a “few people, mainly from out of town.”

The Baltimore Police Department issued a statement declaring, “While the vast majority of arrests reflect local residency, the total number of arrests does not account for every incident of criminal activity,” adding that the department “believes that outside agitators continue to be the instigators behind acts of violence and destruction.”

The claim that so-called disturbances of the peace are the product of “outside agitators” has been used by authorities against protest movements dating back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. …

The disconnect between the sentiments of the organizers and those protesting police violence was clear in discussions held with those at the march. One resident of the West Baltimore district where Freddie Gray was murdered told the World Socialist Web Site that the police were “a gang in blue” and that any intervention by the federal government into the circumstances of the man’s death would only be a “cover-up.” (See: “Baltimore residents speak out against latest police killing”)

Another Baltimore resident said, “If you are not totally subservient to them [the police], they will escalate the situation… this is a part of the plan to militarize the country and intimidate the population.”

Last Tuesday, the Justice Department said it would open a federal investigation into Gray’s death after an open letter from Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as Cummings and two other congressmen, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes. The five Democrats suggested that such a move would “restore public confidence in the Baltimore Police Department.”

This follows the trend of other DoJ investigations into police departments in places such as Ferguson, Cleveland, Albuquerque and elsewhere that turn up a record of systemic police corruption and brutality, for which no further action is taken.

In pictures: Baltimore protests echo Ferguson: here.

See also here.

South Carolina cops face prison time for sadistically tasering mentally disabled woman: here.

17 thoughts on “Freddie Gray killed, big protests in Baltimore, USA

  1. If the cops in question are found guilty after their trial,sentence them to the fullest extent. There are people that protest these scenarios. I respect their right to do that. What I don’t respect is the people that cloak themselves in the “I’m protesting this” and they use it for an excuse to “loot and destroy “. I respect the people who “assemble peacefully.” These others are just opportunists. Those people need to be hauled into court too. Where’s our glorious CIC at? Oh yeah. The back 9 getting ready to tee off. Can’t interupt that

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    • As the article says, Baltimore police used the minor vandalism of a small group which had broken away from the demonstration, as a pretext to attack the demonstration itself.

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  4. An Emergency Appeal from the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly

    Demand Justice for Freddie Grey – Indict, Convict & Jail Killer Police!

    AMNESTY FOR ALL JAILED YOUTH – END THE POLICE STATE!

    Over 300 people have been arrested in Baltimore since April 25. The first arrests took place after the Saturday protests that spilled into the night both in downtown Baltimore and at the Western District Police Station. Police donned riot gear and charged into young protesters both downtown and in West Baltimore. In the neighborhood where Freddie Grey was murdered police chased youth, formed police phalanxes that swept streets and clubbed people.

    Following the funeral of Freddie Grey, youth again poured into the streets. Last night hundreds more were arrested.

    We have yet to find out the extent of the charges that many of these youth are being held on. Legal support is being organized, and slowly youth are being released. At this moment, the majority remain in jail.

    SOLIDARITY WITH THE ARRESTED YOUTH IS CRITICAL

    It is most important that we stand in solidarity with these young people and that we demand amnesty and their release from jail.

    The anger, pent-up frustration, and rage that many people across this country have witnessed on their television screens is based on decades of racist abuse and neglect in communities all across Baltimore.

    It is about police terror. It is also about unemployment and low wages, decaying housing and lack of services. Just two weeks ago, prior to Freddie Grey’s murder, the city announced water shut-offs to 25,000 households.

    The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, which has been organizing against police terror for many years, has heard first-hand accounts from youths as young as 12 years old that have been handcuffed and driven around in police cruisers, terrorized and then released. Women have spoken to us about sexual assaults by police. Beatings and shake downs are common.

    Freddie Grey is not the first victim of police murder in this mostly Black city. His name is added to a long list of victims: Tyrone West, Darin Hutchins, Anthony Anderson, George King, Maurice Johnson and many others.

    We cannot allow the city, police or media to divide us. We cannot equate property damage with the loss of human life. Freddie Grey cannot be brought back to his family or friends; a window can be repaired.

    OUTSIDE AGITATORS, A DIVERSION

    The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, whose organizers have lived in this city for decades, welcome all those who want to come to Baltimore in solidarity with the people. We understand that police terror and structural racism is a national problem and that it is not confined just to our city.

    The Baltimore Police Department and Mayor have used the “outside agitator” card to distract attention from the real issue of indicting, convicting and jailing the six police who killed Freddie Grey. If the Mayor is indeed worried about “outsiders” then get the cops out of the community, the majority who do not live in the city and who constitute a virtual occupation army. We say tell Governor Hogan to withdraw the State Police who he has deployed.

    Please call Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at 410-396-4900, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts at 410-396-2020 and State’s Attorney Scott D. Schellenberger at 410-887-6600 to demand:

    — Justice for Freddie Grey – indict, convict, and jail killer police.

    — In this crucial hour, we demand full amnesty for all arrestees, their release from jail, and an end to police repression and arrests.

    For those who would like to contribute to the struggle for justice, we have set up two pay pal accounts:

    One for general protest expenses which include flyers, posters, banners, food, water and other supplies: click

    https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=66U3G8YMX57ZQ

    And a special legal defense fund:

    https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=XS2B8GYQWHV2A

    2011 Charles St. Baltimore 21218 443-221-3775

    *Please note that the Baltimore Peoples Assembly is using the spelling “Grey” in respect for Freddie Carlos Grey, who spelled his name with an “e” and the many friends and family in the community who have confirmed this.

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