Baltimore man’s death:Thousands of demonstrators over Freddie Gray in US cities protest in Boston and New York to Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.

April 30, 2015 6:05 am
—  Thousands of
demonstrators marched in Baltimore on Wednesday demanding justice and
police reform as 3,000 troops stood by to enforce a curfew imposed after
Monday’s civil unrest over the death of a 25-year-old black man.

The large peaceful protest that
converged on city hall capped a day of calm in Baltimore, which saw its
worst rioting in decades two days earlier.

Marchers said they seek answers about the fate of Freddie Gray, who
died after suffering spinal injuries while in police custody, while also
highlighting the need to change policing practices in the largely black
city.
Baltimore is the latest
flashpoint in a national movement to end racial profiling stoked by the
deaths of black men over the past year at the hands of police in New
York; Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio; and elsewhere.
It was thousands of people that hit the streets in Baltimore and several
other cities from and to and Washington,
D.C., on Wednesday to protest the death of a black man who died of
spinal injuries after his arrest by Baltimore police and to demand
reforms to police procedures.
While protests of the death of Freddie Gray
were mostly peaceful, there were some arrests, including 16 in
Baltimore and more than a dozen at a rally in Manhattan’s Union Square.
Gray, of Baltimore, was critically injured in police custody.

A man is carried by police officers as arrests are made at Union Square,
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in New York. People gathered to protest the
death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who was critically injured in
police custody.

After meeting with faith leaders and a lawyer for the Gray family, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said officials were working hard to make the investigation into Gray’s death transparent and keep the community informed.
Police have said that they will turn over findings from their investigation to the state’s attorney on Friday
Still, anger and anxiety hung over Baltimore.
Hundreds
of protesters, many of them students wearing backpacks, marched through
downtown, calling for swift justice in the case of Gray.
Authorities
carefully monitored the rally after teenagers started the violence
Monday afternoon, throwing bricks and bottles at officers who had
gathered near a major bus transfer point. The situation escalated from
there, overwhelming police as protesters set fire to cars and buildings
and raided stores.
Schools
closed Tuesday because of the mayhem, but reopened Wednesday, after the
city’s first night of a curfew went off without the widespread violence
many had feared.
About
3,000 police and National Guardsmen descended on the city to help keep
order, and life wasn’t likely to get completely back to normal anytime
soon: The curfew was set to go back into effect at 10 p.m.
The
curfew got off to a not-so-promising start Tuesday night when about 200
protesters ignored warnings from police and pleas from pastors and
other community activists to disperse. Some threw water bottles or lay
down on the ground.
A
line of officers behind riot shields hurled tear gas canisters and
fired pepper balls at the crowd, which dispersed in a matter of minutes.
Police said 35 people were arrested after the curfew went into effect.
And in what was one of the weirdest spectacles in major-league history, Wednesday afternoon’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards was closed to the public for safety reasons.
Earlier in the day, protesters outside the office of Baltimore’s top prosecutor said they supported State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who took office in January and pledged during her campaign to address aggressive police practices.
Mosby’s
office is expected on Friday to get investigative findings from police
on Gray’s death. She will then face a decision on whether and how to
pursue charges against the six police officers who arrested Gray.

“Can’t stop, won’t stop, put killer cops in
cell blocks,” chanted protesters in the biggest march in more than a
week of demonstrations since Gray died on April 19, a week after his
arrest and injury.
Republican
Governor Larry Hogan said protesters must respect the nighttime curfew,
and that troops would not tolerate looting or rioting.
“This
is for everyone who died wrongly at the hands of police,” said Noy
Brown-Frisby, a 35-year-old hairstylist who attended the march with her
young daughter.
But she recognized that high crime in the city of 620,000 people complicates relations with the police.
“There is so much tension. The crime is so
high that when there is interaction between police and the community it
becomes volatile,” she said.
Solidarity
demonstrations were planned in a number of U.S. cities. Hundreds of
people gathered in New York City’s Union Square chanting “black man, no
justice.”
NO REPORT ON FRIDAY
Many
Baltimore citizens were hoping to find out the details of Gray’s death
on Friday when police have said they would conclude their investigation.
But at a briefing on Wednesday, police spokesman Captain Eric Kowalczyk said the conclusions would not be made public.
“We
cannot release all of the information from this investigation to the
public because if there is a decision to charge in any event by the
state’s attorney’s office, the integrity of that investigation has to be
protected,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a separate probe into possible civil rights violations.
‘SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG’
With police and National Guard troops patrolling Baltimore’s streets on Wednesday, schools reopened and business resumed.
Baltimore’s
Major League Baseball team, the Orioles, played the Chicago White Sox
in an empty stadium, a sign of the tenuous security situation.
Baltimore’s Symphony Orchestra staged an impromptu concert for a
gathering of several hundred people.
Police
have arrested a total of 250 since Monday, 35 of them since a curfew
was imposed on Tuesday. Police said some of those arrested may get
released and charged later.
When
violence erupted on Monday, 19 buildings and dozens of cars were burned,
and 20 officers were hurt by rioters throwing stones and bricks.
While
the city was returning to normalcy, residents in the most affected
neighborhoods vented their frustration with police and expressed a
desire to see at least some of the officers who arrested Gray, held
accountable.
“The best (outcome)
would be one where the officers were disciplined and officials realized
what happened and owned up to their wrongdoing,” said Larry Little, 22, a
Baltimore resident who joined the march on Wednesday.
Gray
had been arrested on April 12 after fleeing from police in a high-crime
area and was carrying a switchblade knife. He died a week later and
after his funeral on Monday, rioters went on a rampage.
The
violence in Baltimore prompted national figures – from the new U.S.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch to Democratic presidential hopeful
Hillary Clinton – to weigh in and vow to work on improving law
enforcement and criminal justice in minority communities nationwide.
Lynch,
sworn in as attorney general on Monday, called Baltimore’s riots
“senseless acts of violence” that are counterproductive to the ultimate
goal of “developing a respectful conversation within the Baltimore
community and across the nation about the way our law enforcement
officers interact” with residents.
Clinton
on Wednesday urged police departments throughout the country to use
body cameras and called for an end to excessive prison sentences that
burden black communities.
“There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes,” she said.
The
Baltimore neighborhood that saw the worst of the violence was already
filled with many burned-out buildings and vacant lots that had not been
rebuilt since the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of civil
rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

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