Baltimore death sparks protests in New York, Boston

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baltimore Death Sparks Protests in New York, Boston.

Thousands demonstrated in US East Coast cities demanding equal treatment for all by police, after a young African American died of injuries sustained in custody in Baltimore. Balitmore Police said Wednesday they will not release to the public their internal report on the death of Freddie Gray, who died of spinal injuries sustained while in police custody.Most US media coverage of the events in Baltimore gave narrow scrutiny to the outbreak of violence and images of rioting after unrest swept the northeast American city Monday afternoon. The biggest show of people power was in Baltimore itself — epicenter of the latest racially tinged unrest to convulse the United States — where several thousand mostly young demonstrators paralyzed city blocks in a major rally through downtown to City Hall.

More than 100 people were arrested in New York on Wednesday night after police on a loudspeaker warned them they would be taken into custody if they marched in the street. In an effort to be transparent, authorities have told the community they plan to turn over the findings of a police investigation into Freddie Gray’s death to a state’s attorney by Friday. Protesters first rallied in Manhattan’s Union Square, where they chanted “No justice, no peace!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!,” a reference to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Kowalczyk said on MSNBC’s The Last Word that it’s important “the evidence is saved for any kind of prosecution that may or may not happen.” Authorities have not said how Gray was injured.

Tuesday’s headlines focused on the protestors’ turn toward destruction and looting, favouring fiery images of angry rioters and burning police cruisers and vans, or torched buildings. But protesters on the streets and high school students who met with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday have said there are rumors circulating that some kind of “verdict” will be rendered as soon as Friday. The New York Times printed this front-page headline: “Clashes Rock Baltimore After Funeral; Curfew Is Set.” The Los Angeles Times went for: “Protests turn into rioting in Baltimore.” CNN’s coverage tipped towards scathing commentary on the violence. Dozens of police officers moved in with plastic handcuffs and began making arrests while officers with batons pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalk. Both Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts spent much of the day Wednesday trying to explain that no final resolution to the case would come Friday.

In Boston, activists gathered in a park behind police headquarters in Roxbury and continued with a peaceful march to a park at Dudley Square, across from the Roxbury neighborhood police station. Hassan Murphy, a lawyer for Gray’s family, underscored their comments, saying, “This family wants justice and they want justice that comes at the right time and not too soon.” Gray, 25, was pinned to a sidewalk, handcuffed and hoisted into a police van where he was put in leg irons after Baltimore officers said he made eye contact with them and ran. Nikea Ramsey, whose brother, Burrell Ramsey-White, was shot and killed in an encounter with Boston police in 2012, said, “Me and my family, we stand with Baltimore. This is too much and it’s getting out of hand.” In a statement, Darnell Williams, president and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said the civil rights organization “supports those who have chosen to exercise their First Amendment Right to peacefully assemble and let the world know that when we truly recognize that #BlackLivesMatter we take a large step towards ensuring that #AllLivesMatter.” Boston organizers said they want “amnesty” for the some 300 protesters and rioters who have been arrested in Baltimore, as well as a lifting of the city curfew and state of emergency declaration. And a specially extended deadline for holding people without charge was expiring, so people had to be let go, Captain Eric Kowalczyk said, according to the Sun.

Today they look better than yesterday, so we’re making a lot of progress.” There were signs throughout the city of life getting back to normal, with schools reopening and cars rolling as usual through streets that had been cleared of debris. Some journalists and community activists, nonetheless, pointed out media silence on the brutality of the police and law enforcement in Baltimore, which is long-standing. But widespread protests Wednesday night — not only in Baltimore, but in several cities including Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. — made it clear that tensions over the case are far from subsiding.

The district attorney is not pressing charges in the December shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown in Philadelphia, saying evidence indicates that he was reaching into his car for a loaded pistol. She said many in the community had been under the mistaken belief the report would be made public Friday, stoking fears of another outburst of violence. In August, a white policeman shot dead a black teenager in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, triggering demonstrations in major US cities from Los Angeles to New York that were repeated when a grand jury declined to indict the officer. Maryland State Governor Larry Hogan said he had been “very encouraged” by the prior 24 hours and said a semblance of normality was returning to Baltimore, a gritty city of 620,000 less than an hour’s drive from Washington. In Washington, there was a festive atmosphere as a well-organized march that peaked at about 1,000 ended at the White House, where protesters chanted and held signs reading, “Stop racist police terror.” Among the many startling images to emerge from Baltimore was that of an infuriated mother hitting her teenage son repeatedly for joining the demonstrations on Monday and dragging him away.

As advertised on its Facebook callout, one of the protest’s aims was to dispel the media’s portrayal of “the people of Baltimore as rioters and looters.” “If you go on CNN, NBC, or FOX news, you see them replaying the same riot scene,” Jeremy Divinity, a student attending the protest, said. “But if you go on social media, you see the stories that have not been written.” Another protestor, Shaun Hailey, was holding up a sign that read: “Baltimore, an Uprising, not a Riot.” He told Ahram Online: “Riots are uncontrolled and happen for no reason. There is a reason for what is happening and the reason is how police interact with minorities.” Before protestors started marching, New York Police handed out flyers and gave instructions by megaphone not to march in the streets or block sidewalks, or risk arrest.

Leah Kaplan, who usually avoids protests for fear of getting arrested, said she would march to protest the “absurd form of oppression taking place.” Handing out copies of black power literature, specifically handouts of one of Stokely Carmichael’s speeches, she told Ahram Online that only a resurfacing of the black movement can change things.

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