AFRICANGLOBE – Whistle-blowing, chanting demonstrators briefly scuffled with police Thursday during a protest over the death of a Black man in Baltimore police custody.
A handful of the hundreds of marchers demonstrating against the death of Freddie Gray, 25, threw debris and bottles of water at police as officers arrested a man during the noisy march, which extended from City Hall to the Western District police station where Gray was taken when he was arrested on April 12.
A second protester also was arrested Thursday; the charges against the two were disorderly conduct and destruction of property.
Gray died a week after he was arrested. An autopsy showed he died of a spinal cord injury; the cause of the injury is unknown. His death has sparked outrage, and Thursday’s march was the latest protest in the largely Black city.
Protesters stopped outside the office of the U.S. Attorney and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who will determine whether charges will be brought against officers.
Some protesters called for the six officers suspended in connection with the case to be charged with murder.
Chanting “Tell the truth! Stop the lie! Freddie didn’t have to die,” protesters ended outside the Western District station, facing off with police behind metal barricades.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was sending 25 state troopers to reinforce Baltimore police, his office said.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference said it will independently investigate Gray’s death, and the local head of the civil-rights group said it lacked confidence in a police investigation.
Police claim Gray fled when officers approached, and they allegedly found a switchblade in his pocket. He was put in a police van to be taken to a station.
When Gray was taken out, he was unresponsive and taken to a hospital.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters last night that Gray “wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and that’s part of our investigation. It’s our responsibility to make sure people are safely transported, especially if their hands are behind their back.”
Assistant Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said Gray was secured by “leg irons” after he allegedly became agitated.
Batts said there are no circumstances under which a prisoner should not be wearing a seat belt during transport.
Failing to put a belt on an inmate would violate a policy on handling detainees that the department had issued nine days earlier.
Batts also said that another man who was a passenger in the van during the end of Gray’s ride allegedly told investigators that Gray “was still moving around, that he was kicking and making noises” until the van arrived at the station.
But Batts was careful to say that the probe includes “everything the officers did that day.”
Police have said they will conclude their investigation by May 1.
By: Ian Simpson
The Death Of Freddie Gray And The War On Black America