Baltimore continues with curfew as other cities join protest

Protesters marched against police violence in cities from New York to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as troops stood by in Baltimore to enforce a curfew imposed after civil unrest over the death of a 25-year-old black man.

N.Y., Boston, Washington join Baltimore in protesting police brutality

NYC protesters rally for Freddie Gray

The National

6 years ago
Protesters march down streets and get into scuffles with police in New York City 3:16

Protesters marched against police violence in cities from New York to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as troops stood by in Baltimore to enforce a curfew imposed after civil unrest over the death of a 25-year-old black man.

The marches were the latest in a string of demonstrations against racial profiling and police use of lethal force sparked by the deaths of unarmed African-American men in Cleveland; Ferguson, Mo.; New York and elsewhere in the past year.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them students wearing backpacks, marched through downtown Baltimore Wednesday, calling for swift justice in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man fatally injured in police custody. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
New York City police arrested at least 60 people after hundreds of protesters gathered in Union Square and some of them tried to cross barriers to march through the streets, a New York Police Department spokesman said. Boston, Washington, Minneapolis and Ferguson saw smaller demonstrations.

Protesters in the mostly black city of Baltimore sought answers about the fate of Freddie Gray, who died after suffering spinal injuries while in police custody. Police are due on Friday to give their findings on Gray's death to prosecutors but they have said no information will be made public.

The Washington Post late Wednesday said it had obtained a police document in which a prisoner being transported with Gray said he was "banging against the walls" of a police van and "was intentionally trying to injure himself."

Police stand in formation as a curfew approaches for the second night in a row, Wednesday in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him, the paper said.

The prisoner's account was contained in an application for a search warrant that was sealed by the court, the Post said. The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him, the paper said.

The Post cautioned it was just one piece of information, and that it wasn't clear if that account was corroborated by any other information.

'Pretty big fault line'

In Baltimore, thousands of peaceful marchers converged on city hall, capping a day of calm in a city that two days earlier saw its worst rioting in decades.

"Can't stop, won't stop, put killer cops in cell blocks," chanted protesters in the biggest march in Baltimore since Gray died on April 19, a week after his arrest and injury. Some wore black T-shirts that said "Black Lives Matter" — which has become the slogan of a movement against police brutality.

Many of the protesters were college students, and a good portion were white.

Jacob Kinder, a student at Goucher University in nearby Towson, Md., said Gray's death and the subsequent protests and riots have been a big topic all week on campus.

"I think there's a pretty big fault line between students who think that the protests are justified and the riots are justified and people who don't see race as a problem," Kinder said.

New York police officers detain a protester during a march against police brutality in Manhattan dubbed 'NYC Rise Up & Shut it Down With Baltimore.' Several cities held similar protests in solidarity with Baltimore. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

"This is for everyone who died wrongly at the hands of police," said Noy Brown-Frisby, a 35-year-old hairstylist who attended Wednesday's 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.

Report into Gray death won't be made public

Republican Governor Larry Hogan said protesters must respect the nighttime curfew, and that troops would not tolerate looting or rioting. Nineteen buildings and dozens of cars burned in Baltimore on Monday in a spasm of violence. Numerous stores were looted that day, and 20 officers were hurt by rioters throwing stones and bricks.

Protesters against police violence stop traffic at a major intersection in the Chinatown neighbourhood as they begin a march towards the White House in Washington, one of several cities that joined protests against police brutality in solidarity with Baltimore. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Tuesday night's curfew "worked extremely well" and he did not anticipate any trouble Wednesday night. He showed reporters a piece of rock he said was one of the projectiles being thrown at officers.

"I think they're extremely courageous," he said of the officers patrolling city streets. "And I think they've been standing tall."

In New York City's Union Square, helicopters hovered overhead as tensions rose between police and protesters who chanted "black man, no justice." Officials told protesters they could not get off the sidewalk, and arrested a few people who tried to march into the street.

Loud protesters also gathered in Times Square then moved north, blocking traffic on Seventh Avenue.

There were no fans in the stands to witness the Baltimore Orioles' victory over the Chicago White Sox Wednesday after officials barred the public from the game because of Monday's riots. (Gail Burton/Associated Press)
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.

"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.

Wednesday's demonstrations in Baltimore were peaceful and police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he did not anticipate trouble through the evening. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)
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.

But police said on Wednesday that information would be turned over to the state's attorney's office and could not be made public because prosecutors still have to decide whether to bring charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a separate probe into possible civil rights violations in Gray's death.

Return to normalcy — sort of

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, but the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played a free outside concert around lunchtime, and dozens of people gathered and sang the national anthem as the orchestra played along. 

Police have arrested close to 270 people since Monday, 18 of them on Wednesday. Batts said more than 100 people had been released without being charged, because officials could not keep up with the paperwork, but he said charges would be brought later.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was only sworn into office the day of the riots, said Wednesday that Baltimore is 'struggling to balance great expectations and need with limited resources.' (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)
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.

The Baltimore neighbourhood 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.

With files from CBC News, The Associated Press