Thursday, April 30, 2015

'Philly Is Baltimore' Protest Blocks Traffic in Center City
By Kevin Pulsifer and Dan Stamm

A protest in response to recent events in Baltimore moved from Philadelphia's City Hall into Rittenhouse Square and eventually to the roads above the Vine Street Expressway, causing traffic troubles along the way and leading to confrontations with officers.

The demonstration began peacefully at Dilworth Plaza. It wrapped up shortly before 6 p.m. as protesters headed onto city streets -- one group group marched on the streets around City Hall then down Broad Street in the other direction before turning onto Locust Street, winding around Rittenhouse Square and onto Walnut Street where they surrounded a police cruiser before moving along.

Pa. State Troopers to Assist in Baltimore Amid Protests

There were some verbal arguments during the march but nothing physical until nearly 8 p.m. when police could be seen removing some protesters who became rowdy after the the groups walked hand-in-hand down 16th Street toward the Vine Street Expressway.

Police then blocked the I-676 ramps to 15th Street as some protesters sat down in the intersection before the confrontations.

A smaller group walked up Broad Street toward North Philly.

Earlier, dozens of protesters marched along Chestnut Street in University City toward Center City shortly after 4 p.m. Philadelphia Police followed the peaceful protest as it marched. At the same time, the crowd began to grow at Dilworth Plaza -- near City Hall.

As of 5 p.m. the majority of the rally remained contained at Dilworth Plaza with police estimating 600 to 800 demonstrators taking part.

The protest is one of many happening nationwide in response to the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered spinal injuries while in Baltimore Police custody following his April 12 arrest. Gray died a week later.

Some officials warned commuters to plan their evening commute as the large crowd could mess with travel around City Hall and throughout Center City but for the most part things continued to move as normal.

SEPTA officials did not announce any planned detours due to the protest, but acknowledged that they would keep an eye on the proceedings and make adjustments to mass transit schedules if necessary.

SEPTA reported several bus routes with delays in Center City.

Commuters planning on driving through Center City should avoid Market Street and Broad Street near City Hall and expect congestion on other nearby roadways. Posts on social media indicate the protesters plan to march slowly north on Broad Street -- meaning commuters heading home from the city's Francisville/Fairmount and Poplar neighborhoods may experience delays. Also expect delays around Rittenhouse Square.

For commuters looking to avoid the crowds, staying completely clear of the area is likely the best option.

Police maintained peaceful boundaries during the demonstration. At least one Philadelphia school announced an early dismissal so students could get home safely.

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In Solidarity With Baltimore: Unrest Flares in Ferguson Again as Residents Defy the Police
Brandie Piper
KSDK-TV, St. Louis 9 a.m. EDT April 29, 2015

FERGUSON, Mo. — A day after violent riots marred Baltimore, groups of people gathered in Ferguson, Mo., on Tuesday, clashing with police and lighting dumpster fires throughout the city.

Shortly before 10 p.m. local time, officers were called to West Florissant Avenue for a shooting outside a restaurant. That person sustained minor injuries.

A city spokesperson said protesters were throwing rocks at patrol vehicles while officers tried to help the victims of the shooting.

Protesters started lighting dumpsters on fire, and standing in the street, prompting officers to don riot gear and close the street while they regained control of the situation.

The streets of Ferguson have been relatively calm since two officers were shot March 11 outside the police department during protests. Those officers are recovering from their injuries.

A 20-year-old protester was charged with shooting the officers — one was shot in the face, the other in the shoulder.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Jeffrey Williams admitted firing the shots but said he was shooting at someone else.

Monday in Baltimore protesters looted and burned buildings, hurled projectiles at police, and beat a Baltimore Sun photographer in the street. The riots followed the funeral of Freddie Gray who died April 12 after sustaining a mysterious spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Ferguson has been the scene of sometimes violent protests since the shooting death of unarmed black man Michael Brown, 18, by a white police officer in August. The shooting and subsequent investigation brought national attention and a Justice Department probe to the St. Louis suburb.

Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY.

Three shot amid violence in Ferguson


FERGUSON   •   Three people were shot, a gas station was looted, 100 shots were fired, a portable restroom and trashcans were set on fire and several police vehicles were vandalized during violence that erupted here Tuesday night, according to Acting Ferguson Police Chief Al Eickhoff.

Two of the shooting victims were shot in the neck, and one was shot in the leg, Eickhoff said, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. A 20-year-old St. Louis County man was arrested for one of the shootings.

Police made at least five arrests for charges including burglary and flourishing a weapon. Most of the arrests stemmed from the looting of a gas station in Dellwood. Police arrested one man for firing a gun from a vehicle, Eickhoff said.

The windshields on two Ferguson police vehicles were broken, and both sustained body damage from rocks, bricks and concrete blocks being hurled at them, Eickhoff said.

St. Louis County police confirmed that a window on the department's armored vehicle known as the BearCat was broken during the violence.

In all, Eickhoff estimated that about 150 officers from St. Louis County, Missouri Highway Patrol and surrounding municipalities responded to control the crowd.

"This community is trying to move forward and there are people who are just set on violence,"
Eickhoff said. "(The people who committed crimes) were not protesters, they were just a criminal element set on undoing all that this community has done to move forward."

Eickhoff said Tuesday night's crowd was the largest he had seen solely committed to violence.

"We've got a certain amount of a criminal element that do not want to see the community move forward. We've got a completely new face on the city council and we're changing things. I'm not sure if they're just resisting it or what. The three shooting victims we had were rioters, and while we're trying to take care of the victims, they're intent on damaging the policemen who are trying to help the rioters that have been shot."

Eickhoff said a crowd began gathering around 9 p.m.

A man was shot in the lower leg as a group of about 50 protesters took to West Florissant Avenue near Canfield Drive. The man was carried to the safety of Northland Chop Suey, 9240 West Florissant Avenue, by bystanders and a Post-Dispatch photographer at the scene.

Police who were monitoring the gathering quickly took a person into custody in the shooting and recovered a gun, but it was unclear if the shooting was related to the gathering.

At times people blocked traffic on West Florissant.

The site is near where Michael Brown was fatally shot in August by then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s death touched off weeks of protests and unrest.

The latest demonstration came as protesters faced off with police in Baltimore over the death of a man injured there while in police custody.

By about 11 p.m., a line of protesters faced off with a line of police cars blocking West Florissant.

The protesters' chants included "No justice, no peace" and "Hey hey, ho ho, these killer cops have got to go."

Officers on loudspeakers ordered the protesters to disperse, telling them they were "unlawfully assembled."

By 11:30 p.m., many of the protesters got into cars and drove up and down the street, horns blaring and tires spinning. Police then began warning that they might make arrests and use "chemical munitions" to disperse them.

About 11:50 p.m., witnesses reported hearing up to 15 gunshots in the area of the protests.

Just after midnight, police responded to reports of shots fired and one victim wounded on Windward Court, the street that runs through an area with several apartment complexes, including Canfield Green. Several protesters had retreated to this area after police ordered them to disperse from West Florissant Avenue.

The arsons began around 1 a.m.

Eickhoff said he remained in Ferguson until about 3:30 a.m.

"It's not like we can walk away and let this community get destroyed," he said. "It takes a lot of policemen to handle these situations. We're all wiped out and wondering, with all of the people trying to get this community to go forward and heal and come together, why we've got this element that's like, 'We're not going to let you, we're going to destroy everything.'

"The businesses are going to leave, there are going to be no more jobs. Some people just don't get it. You're destroying community that you live in, if you even live in Ferguson."

Valerie Schremp-Hahn and David Carson of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report
Standing Between the Police and the People in Baltimore: City Deploys Functionaries to Calm the Streets
New York Times
APRIL 29, 2015

BALTIMORE — For the past few days, as a rare national media spotlight has shined on this city’s troubles, the Rev. Warren Savage has taken the opportunity to meet with self-described members of the gangs that many residents blame for some of those woes: the Crips, the Bloods and the Black Guerrilla Family.

He has found them on the streets, sat down with them in churches, and talked to them about their anger and their aspirations, urging them to redirect their energy from crime and violent feuding to more productive ends — including tamping down unrest that followed the death of a young black man, Freddie Gray, who suffered fatal injuries in police custody two weeks ago.

In Ferguson, Mo., community leaders seemed unable to come together to stem the violence after the police killing of Michael Brown in August. But in Baltimore, an array of pastors, politicians, community leaders and even gang members have repeatedly taken to the streets to calm crowds, effectively helping the police impose a curfew so far.

Mr. Savage is one of them. By his own telling, he was an early member of a street gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, who engaged in drug trafficking in the early 1980s and spent 15 years in prison.

Now the owner of an upholstery company and volunteer church liaison to troubled youth, he is hoping that shared anger over the death of Mr. Gray will help him advance some gang members’ own efforts to work out a truce and reduce street violence.

“I approach them as an O.G.,” said Mr. Savage, 55, using shorthand for original gangster. “Lots of these kids, you start talking that minister stuff and they look at you funny. They don’t want to hear you preach. They want you to do something.”

Many local politicians, notably Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat whose district includes West Baltimore, have also spent hours walking the city’s blighted neighborhoods to discourage any repeat of Monday’s disorder.

When schools were closed on Tuesday, some teachers came to churches to help feed children who rely on meals they get at school. Ordinary citizens, by the hundreds, have swept up the mess and repeatedly formed lines to create a buffer between police officers in riot gear and angry demonstrators.

Wounded civic pride is part of the motivation. The Empowerment Temple, a big West Baltimore church, responded to Monday’s unrest by offering training in nonviolence.

“We need to show the world what Baltimore is really like,” said the church’s minister, the Rev. Jamal Bryant. “It’s not the violence you saw out there on the streets.”

Part of the goal is political. On Wednesday, at orderly rallies and marches, many people tried to shift public attention away from the rioting and back to calls to change the city’s Police Department — with its history of aggressive and sometimes brutal policies — and find justice for the death of Mr. Gray, 25, whose spine was nearly severed after he ran from the police and was arrested.

About 50 people rallied at midday outside the offices of local prosecutors who are investigating police responsibility for the death of Mr. Gray. Later, hundreds of college students and others marched to City Hall, again trying to return public attention to police abuse of black men.

The Rev. Delman Coates, who addressed the midday crowd, said his intent was not to protest, exactly, but to help Marilyn Mosby, the city’s recently elected top prosecutor, do her job.

“She campaigned on a platform of dealing with the very deep-seated problems around police accountability,” said Dr. Coates, whose church is in Clinton, Md. “We need all hands on deck to address this problem.”

Baltimore’s self-appointed peacekeepers were not successful in the initial hours of unrest, when rioters looted stores, burned buildings and injured more than a dozen police officers, some of them seriously. But in the following days, they were more effective in restraining violence than clergy members and civil rights leaders in Ferguson, who had troubles cohering in the first few days and struggled to calm violent demonstrators.

At Bethel A.M.E. Church on Tuesday, teachers from both public and private schools served sandwiches and cookies to kids who had missed lunch at school. Amber Johnson, a teacher at Patterson Park Public Charter School, talked to children aged seven to 15 about Mr. Gray’s death, the rioting and how they felt about it all. She and other volunteers quizzed them, too, asking the number of states and who is president of the United States. (“Taylor Swift?” ventured one young pupil.)

But in a city abuzz with public speeches, meetings and demonstrations, perhaps nothing was more surprising than the outreach to gangs, and some gang members’ positive response. Gang fights accounted for some of violence in a city that recorded 211 homicides last year. Gangs run some of the thriving drug trade, and the Black Guerrilla Family was accused by prosecutors of a virtual takeover of the city’s jail, leading to corruption charges against many correctional officers. And earlier this week, the police warned that the Crips and Bloods were uniting to plan attacks on officers, though members of both gangs have denied any such plans.

That history warranted skepticism about a lasting turnaround by gang members, and there was plenty. But ministers who were involved in the discussions said the turmoil offers an opening that should not go to waste.

The Rev. Duane Simmons, of Simmons Memorial Baptist Church, sent church members to the CVS drugstore that had been burned on Monday night to collect gang members hanging around the area. He wanted to get angry young men away from the large police presence, and also start a discussion.

Crips in red bandannas and Bloods in blue sat in Mr. Simmons’s office and discussed their frustrations and possible solutions.

A Crip named Eric, who asked that his last name not be used, said some members of the three major gangs have become disillusioned with the violence and want to find more productive activities. “Police still blame us for stuff that we did in the past,” he said. “But that’s not where we’re at right now. We’re trying to be about peace.”

Mr. Savage, the preacher and former gang member, said that the discussions are a promising start. He said he had heard other ministers speak in recent days of a “disconnect” with gang members. That was an understatement, he said.

“There is no disconnect,” he said, “because there never was a connection.”
Baltimore Mayor Treads Fine Line in Divided City
APRIL 29, 2015

BALTIMORE — With buildings ablaze and looters rampaging through city streets, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake faced television cameras Monday night and sternly denounced the rioters as “thugs.” The next day, with some black residents in an uproar over a word they call racially charged, she walked it back.

“There are no thugs in Baltimore,” the mayor, who is African-American, said at a church, where she met with members of the clergy. “Sometimes, my own little anger translator gets the best of me.”

The episode demonstrates the fine line Ms. Rawlings-Blake, 45, walks as she tries to lead this majority black city out of what she calls “one of our darkest days.” It is also a vivid reminder that the presence of a black mayor (and black police commissioner) does not guarantee a bond or rapport with poor black residents that might help calm a city going through the kind of trauma facing Baltimore.

Any mayor would surely face challenges under such circumstances. But for Ms. Rawlings-Blake the challenges are especially acute. She must try to bring together two Baltimores, neither of which she is entirely a part of: the gentrified Baltimore of the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards and the frustrated, low-income black Baltimore, with its boarded-up rowhouses.

“She’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t,” said Billy Murphy, the lawyer for the family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man whose death after a spinal cord injury in police custody set off the unrest. “She’s in a Catch-22.”

In other American cities, like Ferguson Mo., and New York, which have been roiled by protests over police treatment of black men, white mayors grappled with complaints from black residents. In that sense, Baltimore is different. On Wednesday, with the city in a tentative peace, Ms. Rawlings-Blake tried to tamp down expectations that the police would make public on Friday the results of an investigation into Mr. Gray’s death.

With her elite upbringing (her mother is a doctor, and her father was one of Maryland’s most powerful politicians) and serious, reserved political style, Ms. Rawlings-Blake has not endeared herself to people in Baltimore’s most blighted neighborhoods, where she is seen as out of touch. Now Mr. Gray’s death has exposed those tensions as never before.

“A lot of us don’t like her,” said Jasmine Squirrel, 25, a high school classmate of Mr. Gray’s. “She don’t really do a lot for our city, the inner city, the schools and the youth. We don’t see her face in our community — the only time we did see her was around the time when it was time for her to get elected. The only reason why she’s out now is because they tore it up.”

On Wednesday, Ms. Rawlings-Blake was out in city neighborhoods, as she has been all week, day and night. She turned up — dressed in an elegant navy three-piece knit suit and matching patent leather heels — at a school in Sandtown-Winchester, the West Baltimore neighborhood where Mr. Gray grew up, and later met community leaders at New Shiloh Baptist Church, where his funeral was held.

At a morning news conference at City Hall, the mayor said she was sensitive to the plight of people in the inner city — if not from her own experience, then from that of her family.

“There’s a lot of pain in our city, and when you are in a position like mine, a lot of the frustration is, you know, fairly or unfairly, directed at you,” she said. “My parents grew up in Baltimore; I grew up in Baltimore. I’ve had cousins in jail, on drugs, killed; my brother was almost killed. I have cousins that are extremely successful, and I have family that are unemployed. We run the gamut, and I understand the problems. I can’t fault anyone for not understanding what’s on my heart.”

Ms. Rawlings-Blake grew up around politics and civil rights. Her father, Howard Rawlings, who was known as Pete, was a civil rights activist who became the first black man to become chairman of the powerful appropriations committee in Maryland’s House of Representatives. When she was a little girl, friends say, Ms. Rawlings-Blake would race through the corridors of the State House in Annapolis, telling her parents she wished they could live in the capital city full time.

With her father’s help, Ms. Rawlings-Blake became, at 25, the youngest City Council member in Baltimore history. Eventually, she rose to become the council president. In 2010, when her predecessor, Sheila Dixon, was forced to resign amid scandal, she stepped in as mayor. She won election in her own right the next year, and is up for re-election in 2016.

Ms. Dixon — hugely popular among black residents — is dropping hints about running against her.

At Mr. Gray’s funeral on Monday, when Ms. Rawlings-Blake was introduced, there was polite clapping. But when Ms. Dixon was introduced, the congregation roared with enthusiasm. “We love you, Sheila,” a woman shouted from the balcony.

On the national political scene, Ms. Rawlings-Blake’s star has been rising. She has taken high-profile posts in the United States Conference of Mayors and the Democratic National Committee, and has been mentioned, but has ruled out running, for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara A. Mikulski, who is retiring. Some see her as a potential governor.

Whether that will change as a result of the Gray case remains to be seen. Carl Stokes, a member of the City Council, was among those criticizing the mayor for her use of the word “thugs.” On CNN, he likened it to the word “nigger.” Mr. Stokes says Ms. Rawlings-Blake does not “have her ear to the ground,” and pays more attention to developers than poor people.

“She puts a lot of money into the harbor and gives a lot of money to billionaire developers,” he said. “Meanwhile, the neighborhoods haven’t gotten better in 40 years.”

Aides to the mayor say she has worked hard to improve living conditions in neighborhoods like the one where Mr. Gray grew up. They say she is building new recreation centers — one opened last year and two more are planned — and 3,000 homes have been demolished or rehabilitated on her watch. She has secured $1 billion from the General Assembly to repair or replace aging schools, they said.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Supporters of the mayor say she is being unfairly blamed for problems that go back decades.

“You’ve got alcoholism, you’ve got drug abuse, we have parents that don’t value school, but you want to blame the mayor?” said Munir Bahar, a founder of 300 Men March, an antiviolence initiative.

After Mr. Gray died on April 19, he said, Ms. Rawlings-Blake reached out, asking activists “if anything she’s saying seems wrong or feels wrong, to let her know.”

But as protests grew, Ms. Rawlings-Blake’s language has provoked questions.

She has come under particular criticism for a comment she made Saturday, when peaceful demonstrations briefly turned violent, when she said she faced a “very delicate balancing act” in trying to maintain the peace and protect First Amendment rights, and that in doing so, the city “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.”

Critics quickly accused her of giving license to those who would commit violence; she said the news media distorted her remarks. “Taken in context,” she wrote on her Facebook page, “I explained that, in giving peaceful demonstrators room to share their message, unfortunately, those who were seeking to incite violence also had space to operate.”

But it is the remark about “thugs,” for which the mayor has repeatedly apologized, that seems to have rankled the most.

At the Academies at Frederick Douglass High School on Wednesday, where the hip-hop artist Wale made a surprise visit as part of an effort by the school system to manage anger over Mr. Gray’s death, Montrez Watt, 17, trembled as he spoke of it. “She doesn’t understand,” he said. “She called us thugs, yo.”

The Rev. Jamal Bryant, who delivered the eulogy at Mr. Gray’s funeral, told the students that they could hold the city’s black leaders, including the mayor, accountable, and that they had the power to vote politicians in or out of office.

“Next year,” he said, “she needs your vote.”
After Baltimore Unrest, Thousands Protest in Cities Across the U.S.

The high-profile unrest in Baltimore triggered protests in several American cities Wednesday.

Demonstrators across the country were spurred by the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, whose family says he suffered a partially severed spine and a crushed voice box while in police custody. Officials have confirmed that he died of a severed spine.

Here's what happened at some of the protests:


After more than 1,000 marchers streamed through the city's streets early Wednesday evening, the crowds dispersed and the 10 p.m. curfew passed with little drama.

The crowd facing police in west-side Baltimore, the epicenter of the protests, was largely made up of media when the clock hit 10 p.m. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) was on the scene, telling people to go home.


More than 500 demonstrators peacefully marched through Boston on Wednesday evening, the Boston Globe reported.

The crowd gathered at police headquarters, where Boston Police Superintendent in Chief William Gross, the first black official to hold the position, greeted and shook hands with a protest leader, the newspaper reported.

"I'm a student of history," Gross told protest organizer Brock Satter, according to the Globe. “If people didn’t protest what they felt was injustice, I wouldn’t be here in this capacity today as chief."


Denver police used pepper spray on a crowd of about 100 demonstrators that gathered downtown Wednesday evening, the Denver Post reported. Some of the demonstrators had been holding signs in support of the protests in Baltimore, the newspaper said.

Ferguson, Mo.

For the second night in a row, demonstrators protested on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, one of the centers of the St. Louis suburb's protests and rioting after the police shooting of Michael Brown last year. Several dozen demonstrators blocked traffic, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Three people were shot and wounded at Tuesday night's protest, which ended with some demonstrators looting a gas station and vandalizing police cars, the newspaper reported.


About 50 demonstrators gathered for about three hours in Houston's south side and protested peacefully, according to Associated Press and local news reports.


About 1,500 people marched through Minneapolis in solidarity with Baltimore in one of the nation's largest demonstrations Wednesday, and no one had been arrested by the time the march ended about 9 p.m., the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

“We have a lot of work to do, and we are not immune to the problems that have plagued major cities in the last few months,” Nekima Levy-Pounds, a University of St. Thomas law professor and civil rights activist, told the newspaper.

New York

Police arrested more than 60 marchers in New York City as a crowd of several hundred people marched through Manhattan, monitored closely by police.

The crowd splintered into several smaller groups, and in Herald Square, about 200 marchers laid in the middle of the intersection for a few minutes before heading to Times Square.

Taisha Herrera, 37, of the Bronx brought her two children, Tyreen Smith, 11, and Molly Smith, 9, to a gathering in Union Square. "As children of color, I want them to know the truth about police brutality," Herrera said.


About 50 demonstrators marched through downtown for a solidarity protest, blocking cars and chanting, "If you're not furious, you're not paying attention," according to Seattle Times reporter Paige Cornwell.

Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of demonstrators shut down traffic in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood and marched to the White House in solidarity with the Freddie Gray protests happening in Baltimore about 40 miles to the northeast, the Washington Post reported.

“All night, all day, we’re going to fight for Freddie Gray,” the crowd chanted, according to the Post.

Times staff writer Tina Susman and special correspondent Vera Haller in New York contributed to this report.

Follow @MattDPearce for national news
Several dozen arrested in Freddie Gray protests in New York City

Josh Einiger reports from Union Square.

UNION SQUARE -- At least 100 people were arrested after protesters gathered in Union Square Wednesday night to demand justice in the death of Freddie Gray, the man who died while in police custody in Baltimore. The protesters then moved throughout Manhattan, shutting down several streets along the way.

Protesters converged at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, and the tunnel was shut down outbound as police blocked off the entrance for about an hour. It has now reopened to traffic. There are several groups of protesters now marching throughout Lower Manhattan, Times Square and Midtown.

Earlier, an estimated 1,000 people gathered at Union Square for the rally, then marched west on East 17th Street towards 5th Avenue.

The group was on East 17th Street about halfway down the block when police took a stand and ordered protesters to get on the sidewalk.

Those that refused started pushing and shoving with police officers. At least two officers were injured in the ruckus. Police with batons had to push the crowd back onto the sidewalk.

Before the march, while the group was in Union Square, police handed out flyers and used loudspeakers to warn protesters that they would be arrested if they didn't stay on the sidewalk.

The protesters chanted "no justice, no peace" and "hands up, don't shoot" as dozens of police officers watched.

Organizers say the rally was meant to show solidarity with people in Baltimore. "The game plan is to make sure people are politicized about the issues that are happening in terms of police brutality," said one organizer. "What's happening not only in communities in Baltimore, but in Brooklyn and Harlem and across the country."

Demonstrations were also held in Boston and Minneapolis Wednesday night, while in Baltimore, a group of protesters marched to City Hall to protest Gray's death, chanting "Tell the truth. Stop the lies. Freddie Gray didn't have to die."

The rallies come as authorities try to maintain calm in Baltimore following the riots that rocked the city on Monday.

Police also revealed that a report on the death of Gray will not be released to the public on Friday as promised.

Authorities say Maryland's attorney general may file charges so the integrity of the investigation needs to be protected.

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby is expected to get investigative findings from police on Gray's death, and will then have to decide whether and how to pursue charges against the six police officers who arrested Gray.
Thousands March in Baltimore, NYC Over Death of Freddie Gray
Yamiche Alcindor, Donna Leinwand Leger and William M. Welch
USA TODAY 11:01 p.m. EDT April 29, 2015

BALTIMORE — Thousands massed outside City Hall on Wednesday in protest over the death of a man injured in police custody, and the outrage spread to New York City where another large throng gathered in Union Square.

The demonstrations in the two cities saw droves of chanting protesters lining city blocks and spilling over into nearby streets. The crowds waved signs seeking justice for Freddie Gray, whose death triggered protests that led to violence, burning and looting Monday in Baltimore and provoked a week-long emergency nighttime curfew.

There were only small crowds left on the streets of Baltimore a half hour after the curfew took effect for a second night at 10 p.m.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said 18 people were arrested Wednesday, including two juveniles. Police in New York arrested more than a dozen people.

"We are asking that they remain peaceful,'' Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he was "very encouraged'' by the relative calm. Some 2,000 National Guard troops and more than 1,000 law enforcement officers were on hand to enforce the curfew and maintain order.

"We're not out of the woods yet,'' Hogan said.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that it obtained a police document saying that Gray was "banging against walls" inside the police wagon after his arrest, a period when Baltimore police officials contend he must have sustained his fatal spinal injury earlier this month. A prisoner sharing the police van with Gray told investigators he believed that Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself,'' according to the document.

The prisoner was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him, the Post reported. His statement was contained in an application for a search warrant, sealed by the court but obtained by the newspaper under the condition that the prisoner not be named.

In New York, several hundred people gathered at Union Square in Manhattan, chanting "no justice, no peace" and "hands up, don't shoot."

New York police officers watched and a police helicopter hovered overhead. A police loudspeaker warned the protesters that they would be arrested if they marched in the street.

The Baltimore protesters also demanded a deeper look at how police treat black men in the city. Signs included "End Police Brutality Now," Justice and Equality For All" and "Stop Police Militarization Killings."

Many were students clad in sports uniforms, t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts from their colleges and high schools.

"This is an important issue," said Jillian Tse, a senior at Johns Hopkins University. "It's more just than just police brutality. I think it's systemic racism."

Ten days of confrontational protests have focused national attention on the death of Gray, 25, a black man who suffered a severe spinal injury and died in police custody April 19. Tension exploded into violence Monday, when clashes between police and demonstrators resulted in injuries to at least 20 officers and arrest of more than 200 protesters.

On Tuesday night, some protesters hurled objects at police, and officers responded by firing pepper pellets and smoke canisters into the crowd. The tension quickly eased, and the crowd mostly dispersed. Some protesters remained until police in riot gear advanced down the street. Kowalczyk said 35 arrests were made Tuesday.

The latest protests came two days before police investigators are scheduled to turn over their findings to prosecutors. Six officers have been suspended with pay pending the investigation that could result in criminal charges.

Cheryl Stewart, spokesperson for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said the findings will not be made public anytime soon. The state's attorney's office will review the report and decide whether to charge anyone in Gray's death, she said.

"The misconception is that this report will be released publicly and it will not be," Stewart said. "We just want to make it clear that releasing too much information could be harmful to the investigation and to justice."

"Everybody is pinning on Friday like this is going to a big verdict or something and that's not going to happen," Stewart said. "I understand people want the details. But giving it to the public could jeopardize whether charges will be brought."

Yvonne Rice, 55, said she was stunned that the police findings won't be made public immediately.

"They are hiding something," Rice said. "People need to know what's going on or the National Guard will be here forever. People are going to act out."

Romero Lavalais, 45, a building engineer, said he traveled from his home in Accokeek, Md., to call attention to what he sees as an unequal American justice system.

"You have to force change," he said. "It's not going to happen with us staying in our luxury homes."

Rev. Delman Coates, pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., helped organize the rally and said the city must continue to focus on Gray's death and police department changes. He said too often young men of color are mistreated and face discrimination from police and in their daily lives.

"We cannot wait for justice," Coates said. "We're here to say enough is enough. We are tired. We need all hands on deck to eradicate this problem."

Also Wednesday, schools CEO Gregory Thornton welcomed students back to classes with an open letter thanking "the thousands and thousands of students who made good decisions (Monday) and avoided the violence and law-breaking."

The letter also warned that students who did participate in Monday's violence will be held accountable.

"Principals and teachers are planning activities that will help students learn from the past days' events," Thornton said. "Counselors, social workers, and psychologists will be on hand to support students' emotional needs."

The city was far from normal. National Guard troops roam the streets. The Baltimore Orioles won their Major League Baseball game Wednesday afternoon in an empty stadium where spectators were excluded. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played a free, outdoor concert.

Contributing: John Bacon

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marchers Supporting Baltimore Protests Take to the Streets Across U.S.
By Ralph Ellis, CNN
Updated 10:53 PM ET, Wed April 29, 2015

Photo: Thousands protest in Manhattan prompted by Baltimore Rebellion.

Story highlights

Police arrest demonstrators near Union Square in New York
Protests also held in Washington, Minneapolis and Boston

In cities across the United States, marchers took to the streets to show support for protesters in Baltimore and to complain about police violence in their own towns.

On Wednesday night, several hundred people streamed into Union Square for an "NYC Rise Up & Shut It Down With Baltimore" rally. Protesters headed west on 17th Street and were met by New York City Police officers who pushed them back.

A small scuffle broke out between the two front lines and police placed at least 20 people in zip ties in the street. The NYPD also handed out fliers and used loudspeakers to tell protesters and pedestrians to stay on the sidewalk.

One person was placed in ambulance and taken away. The crowd headed toward Times Square.

A law enforcement source told CNN that more than 60 people were arrested during the demonstrations.

The rally was organized through social media, much like protests over the killing of Eric Garner, who died while police held him in what appeared to be a chokehold. The demonstrators chanted "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice for Freddie Gray" -- the Baltimore man whose death sparked street confrontations in Baltimore.

CNN affiliate WCBS reported Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a message to the protesters: "I'd say that if you want to make change, keep things peaceful." A smaller rally was held Tuesday in New York.

In Washington, about 500 protesters, mostly in their 20s, gathered in the middle of H Street and 7th and chanted, "All night, all day, we're gonna fight for Freddie Gray."

The mood seemed more festive than confrontational, with songs by Public Enemy like "Fight the Power" playing and sign-language interpreters translating the music and chants.

The protest moved to the White House where most of the crowd dispersed. It started after most office workers had headed home and didn't disrupt the Washington workforce badly.

One of the groups involved in the protest is the DC Ferguson Movement. Organizer Eugene Puryear said the march was called to show solidarity with the residents in Baltimore and to highlight that police brutality is a national issue.

Several hundred people gathered in Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis for a rally organized by the group of #BlackLivesMatter. The Minneapolis group held similar events in the past in response to alleged police brutality across the country.

Protests also were held in Boston and Houston.

On Tuesday, violent protests took place in Ferguson, Missouri, where three people were shot, the city police reported.

Police said they didn't do the shooting. A 20-year-old man was arrested and the three victims were in stable condition -- two with wounds to the neck, one in the leg, police said.

Police said about 300 people marched, with protesters throwing rocks at police, damaging four police cars and setting trash and debris on fire near Northwinds Estates and West Florissant, police said.

One business in Dellwood was damaged, police said. No officers were injured as police conducted anti-riot activities until 3 a.m.

In Los Angeles, six people protesting against police brutality were arrested Monday night when they failed to disperse, reported CNN affiliate KABC. About 50 people marched, KABC said.

On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the Stapes Center, where the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs were playing an NBA playoff game. They disrupted traffic and carried protest signs.

In Chicago, hundreds of protesters marched Tuesday from police headquarters at 35th and Michigan through the Southside, CNN affiliate WGN reported. Police made one arrest, for reckless conduct.

WGN said protesters spoke about police violence and the death of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by an off-duty officer in 2012. That officer was acquitted last week. The group plans to gather Wednesday night at the DePaul Law School.

About 100 people marched Monday night in Oakland in support of Baltimore protesters, reported CNN affiliate KABC.

A protest is planned for Thursday in Cincinnati, reported CNN affiliate WXIX. said a "Philly is Baltimore" protest will be held Thursday at Philadelphia City Hall.

CNN's Alexandra Field, Elizabeth Landers, Lorenzo Ferrigno and Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.
Baltimore’s Toxic Slum Housing and Its Part in the Violent Death of Freddie Gray
Nicholas Sharrer

Nicholas Sharrer does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation is funded by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Alfred P Sloan Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Our global publishing platform is funded by Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The unexplained death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, after his arrest on April 12 has spawned two days of intense riots in Baltimore following his funeral on April 27.

Gray, who was carrying a switchblade, was arrested on suspicion of drug activity on the grounds of the Gilmor Homes social housing development in Baltimore’s notorious Sandtown-Winchester neighbourhood.

A video surfaced of Gray’s arrest that showed him screaming in pain as a police officer pressed his knee against his neck; later in the video several police officers dragged a listless and unresponsive Gray into a police wagon as on-lookers shouted that Gray was clearly in need of medical attention.

What happened in the 45 minutes after his 8.39am arrest has sparked protest. After being loaded into the police wagon, Gray was not fastened into a stationary position with a seat belt. While the Baltimore Police Department has conceded that its officers failed to follow proper procedure, many suspect malicious intent; the city police department is renowned for its use of the intimidation tactic of “rough riding”, or failing to secure suspects in transport in order to cause discomfort and instill fear.

The practice of rough riding can be particularly dangerous and suspects are usually handcuffed, which prevents suspects from bracing themselves from injury. At some point during transit, Gray suffered a medical emergency. Gray’s spine was severed severely from his neck and he sustained three fractured vertebrae. Although Gray was rushed to the University of Maryland Medical Center, he died seven days later on April 19.

While protests began peacefully on April 27, they quickly descended into rioting, and a state of emergency has now been declared in Maryland. By April 28, 235 arrests had been made (including 34 juveniles), 144 vehicles had been burned along with 15 buildings and 20 police officers wounded. More than 400 Maryland state troopers and 1,700 Maryland national guardsmen were deployed to restore order to the city, which is under a strict curfew from 10pm to 5am.

Even the city’s storied baseball club, the Orioles, has been affected by the riots; two games against the Chicago White Sox were postponed. Put simply, Baltimore is under a level of duress that is disconcerting for such a large city.

Yet while the riots are attributed as a reaction to the death of Gray (similar to events in Ferguson), the truth is much more complicated. Indeed, there are many dissimilarities between Baltimore and Ferguson. While Ferguson had little black political representation and a police force that didn’t reflect local demographics, Baltimore has a black mayor and several black city councillors – and while the police force is majority white, nearly 45% of officers are black.

So, if black Baltimoreans have made great strides in achieving political power in the city (in contrast to Ferguson), what then explains such acrimonious rioting? I believe that the historical legacy of the city’s institutionalised racial housing segregation covenants and their impact on slum housing in the city have contributed to the systemic poverty and geographic isolation of the city’s majority black population.

In fact, there is a direct causal relationship between Gray’s death and the environmental condition of Baltimore’s slum housing.

How they built Baltimore’s ghettos

Ever since 1910, when a black lawyer attempted to purchase a home in Baltimore’s affluent Edmonson Village, the city relied on what came to be known as “housing covenants”. These covenants were legal ordinances enacted by the city to prevent black encroachment on white residential neighbourhoods.

Regardless of the level of black population growth, the covenants prevent black neighbourhood expansion – by the 1940s black people constituted more than a third of the city’s population but occupied only a fifth of urban space. While several Supreme Court cases invalidated Baltimore’s housing covenants, the covenants continued to be de facto law into the early 1970s, as Baltimore politicians and real-estate interests colluded to restrict the growth of black neighbourhoods. This process resulted in black Baltimoreans crowding into already sub-standard slum housing districts.

Although white flight eased tensions over neighbourhood expansion that began in the 1960s, the housing that was left was in particularly poor shape. Baltimore has been a majority black city since the mid-1970s, but the legacy of its racial housing policies continue to affect public health in the city to this day. One of the most striking examples of how housing policy has damaged black health is the example of lead paint poisoning.

Lead poisoning

Lead-infused paint was commonly used in Baltimore’s working class row-houses built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Most of Baltimore’s private housing stock derives from this period. After several epidemics of lead-paint poisoning and lead-induced meningitis in Baltimore’s children in the 1920s and 1930s, the Baltimore City Health Department attempted to ban the use of lead-based paint in Baltimore homes.

The BCHD found that lead paint poisoning was particularly acute among children, who were apt to eat sweet-tasting lead paint chips that peeled off the wall. Lead-paint poisoning in children was found to induce neurological problems, and children with lead-paint poisoning suffered in school. Despite the dangers of lead-paint, the lobbying efforts of Felix Wormser and the Lead Industry Association ensured that lead paint remained a staple of Baltimore housing construction and refurbishment.

It was not until Richard Nixon signed the Lead Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act (LBPPPA) in 1971 was there an effective legal tool to combat the continued use of lead paint. But tens of thousands of Baltimore row-houses remained encrusted with lead paint. Coincidentally, Gray grew up in one such toxic row-house.

Gray spent the first years of his life at 1459 North Carey Street, in the impoverished Druid Heights neighbourhood, less than ten minutes’ walk from the Gilmor Homes projects where he was apprehended. While the Gilmor Homes development suffers its fair share of social problems, Gray would have had a much better chance of surviving his scuffle with the police had he had the benefit of social housing tenancy. Literally.

Gray’s mother Gloria Darden filed a lawsuit in the early 1990s against the landlord of her row-house, Pikesville resident Stanley Rochkind, in protest of his failure to remove lead paint from the home, for which Darded paid US$300 a month. All three of Darden’s children, older daughter Carolina and twins Freddie and Fredericka, tested with abnormally high levels of lead in their blood (technically, any amount of lead in the blood is hazardous).

As a child, Gray had his blood tested six times between 1992 and 1996. On one occasion, he tested as having 19 micrograms per decilitre (mg/dL) of lead in his blood; the state of Maryland permits lead levels lower than 10 mg/dL.

While the trial was set for late 2009, it was postponed by the state to make room for four other lead paint poisoning suits: all direct against Rochkind. The case eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.

Additionally, Gray received treatment as a youth at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a Baltimore hospital that treats children with illnesses of the brain, spinal cord, and musculoskeletal system. His medical treatment did not prevent the onset of negative health effects, however. In addition to being born two months premature, Gray was diagnosed with ADHD and later dropped out of high school after failing several grades. He started using heroin, had been arrested 24 times before his final arrest and had served time in prison for a drug possession charge.

All-too common

Yet what makes Gray’s story so tragic is not its uniqueness, but rather its commonness.

Tens of thousands of slum houses in Baltimore are encrusted with poisonous lead paint. Furthermore, lead paint is just as pervasive in abandoned houses, and this lead contributes to an environment deleterious to public health.

In the Sandtown-Winchester neighbourhood where Gray was apprehended, 30% of private stock houses are either vacant or abandoned. Some 7% of young children in the neighbourhood have elevated lead levels in their blood. The connection between Gray’s death and lead paint might seem far-fetched if it weren’t so blatant.

While it is possible that Gray might have lived a longer, healthier life if he had lived in Gilmor Homes rather than a lead-laden row-house, the fact remains that Baltimore’s history of institutionalised racial segregation has contributed to the dereliction of the city’s row-housing slum districts.

Given that so many people are compelled to live in these unhealthy homes due to a lack of supply of adequate social housing – it is not surprising that Gray’s death has incited indignation. While riots cannot be condoned, their root causes must be considered if they are to be prevented in the future.

Gray’s death tipped Baltimore into turmoil, but his death is not the cause of the rioting. Rather, the city’s municipal legacy of racial segregation and its failure to provide healthy, affordable housing for its working-class Black population have cultivated feelings of anger and hopelessness in much of the city’s young people.
Police Kidnap Community Organizer Live on CNN 
Apr 29, 2015 By Danielle Young, Lifestyle Editor

Joseph Kent is a well-known protestor who was kidnapped on Tuesday night. The shocking thing is that it was all caught on CNN’s cameras. And now, the world wants to know where he is!

The 21-year-old Black student at Morgan State University was standing with his hands up alongside a line of police officers, suited up in riot gear right before 11 p.m. A National Guard humvee drove up and officers swarmed Kent. The rest happens behind the vehicle, making it difficult to see what’s happening to Kent as he’s accosted by police.

Baltimore has been put on a strict curfew of 10 p.m. to help quiet down the rioting plaguing the city.

The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery tweeted “I watched Joseph Kent spend hours trying to clear young people from street & keep them from rioting last night in Baltimore.”

“They drove the vehicle up and when it got close enough to create a wedge they ran out an grabbed him, pinned him against that and arrested him,” CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said. He also told viewers Tuesday night that police had earlier shot pepper spray at the young protester as he approached their line in the street.

Since many of us were tuned into CNN, we spotted the alleged kidnapping and we weren’t alone. Social media was abuzz with the brutal visual, demanding answers:

Kent became widely known in his community after Michael Brown‘s untimely death at the hands of White police officer Darren Wilson. Back in November, he was interviewed by the Baltimore City Paper and talked about keeping the peace while standing with Ferguson and he said, “The protesting, the marching, and the movement, it was important to a lot of people out there.” Kent continues, “Of course, it’s Baltimore and you’re gonna have the ones who wanna be violent and ignorant and stuff like that, but the majority of the people were of one accord and wanted to send a message to the people that don’t understand what is going on and blind to what is happening that it is just not OK to kill our young people.”

When a local journalist called the Baltimore Police Department, she was told that Kent was “arrested for breaking the law and is in jail.”

A local attorney, Stephen Beatty, who said he would offer Kent his services pro bono, tweeted early Wednesday morning that Kent was safe and at Baltimore Central Booking.

“As a service to the community I can confirm that Mr. Kent is at CBIF awaiting processing. Report is he is ok and safe,” he said. “Due to large numbers of arrests, processing is slow. He is not even in system yet. More will be known in about five hours. I do not yet rep him although I will gladly if he wants me to. But everyone breathe. No longer in [Baltimore Police Department] hands. [Correctional officers] have him. Safer,” he said.

We’re hoping Beatty has correct information and that Kent is indeed safe. There’s no hiding the footage that appeared live on CNN.
101 Baltimore Protesters Go Free as Arrest Paperwork Backs Up
NBC News

Dozens of people arrested in violent demonstrations this week in Baltimore were being released early Wednesday evening because police were unable to complete their paperwork in time, the state public defender's office said.

The 101 detainees began walking free without charges about the same time that Baltimore police announced that their report into the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died in police custody this month, wouldn't be made public Friday.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts had set a deadline of Friday to file the report with state investigators. Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said late Wednesday afternoon that the report would remain closed to protect the integrity of the inquiry.

"We know that there are a lot of people who want answers who have concerns they want addressed, and we have an obligation to do our best to be accountable," Kowalczyk said. But "we cannot release all of this information 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."

Thousands of people crammed the area around City Hall in a so-far peaceful rally Wednesday night ahead of a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew that was imposed Tuesday. The curfew was ordered after protests turned violent Monday night after Gray's funeral.

The public defender, a government agency that represents suspects who have no lawyer, had filed habeas corpus petitions demanding that people arrested Monday night be released if they weren't formally charged within 24 hours. No court has "amended or changed the rules that require these important safeguards," it said.

Early Wednesday evening, 101 of those detained began streaming out of the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.

The releases were the result of a logjam for police who were scrambling to pull the necessary paperwork to file charges at the same time they were trying to keep peace on the city's streets, Kowalczyk said.

Batts, the police commissioner, told reporters Wednesday night: "We've come up on a timeline. We are releasing them with future prosecution in mind. ... We're not giving up on them."

Kowalczyk's comments followed earlier statements in which Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sought to soften her description of people involved in the unrest as "thugs."

"When you speak out of frustration and anger, one can say things in a way that you don't mean," the mayor said on Twitter. "That night we saw misguided young people who need to be held accountable, but who also need support. And my comments then didn't convey that."

Meanwhile, the White House has weighed in on the video of Toya Graham, the Baltimore woman who chased her son away from confronting police on Monday, calling it "a powerful expression about the role that parents can play."

"The thing that resonated with me is — was her expression that she was concerned about her son facing the same fate as Freddie Gray," spokesman Josh Earnest said. "And while I'm sure that it was not the immediate reaction of her son to feel like she was looking out for his best interest, there is no doubting that her reaction was one that was rooted in her concern for his safety and his well-being and her love for her child."

More than 3,000 National Guard, Maryland State Police and other law enforcement officers remained on alert before the second night of the curfew. Gov. Larry Hogan welcomed the peaceful response to the curfew Tuesday, but he said early Wednesday evening: "We are not out of the woods yet."

Similar protests were being organized in other cities. Hundreds of protesters marched Tuesday night through Washington, D.C., and the South Side of Chicago. And in New York, a rally in Union Square was under way Wednesday night "to show the people of Baltimore that we stand in solidarity with them and with their resistance," the group Millions March said. A New York police spokesman told NBC New York that about 10 people had been arrested.

Other rallies were planned Wednesday night near Boston and Thursday night in Cincinnati, Ohio.

M. Alex Johnson is a senior writer for NBC News covering general news.
Baltimore Officials Prepare for Whitewash of Police Killing of Freddie Grey
New York Times
APRIL 29, 2015

BALTIMORE — An edgy peace held sway here Wednesday as a huge crowd took to the streets again Wednesday night and the mayor and the police sought to tamp down expectations that residents would learn details on Friday about how a young black man died after being injured in police custody.

Fears ran high that the end of the week could return this city to the violence spurred by the still-unexplained death of the man, Freddie Gray, 25 — particularly if people think they will get answers, but do not. Speculation about the possible release of some or all of the findings has fueled expectations that the public will learn much more about the case that day.

But the mayor, the police commissioner, a large group of prominent clergymen and a lawyer for Mr. Gray’s family emerged from a meeting Wednesday to give a united warning against expecting any revelations on Friday, when the Police Department has said it will turn its findings over to the state’s attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn J. Mosby, who will decide whether to seek criminal charges. Six officers have been suspended in the episode.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said she would like information to be released as soon as possible, but said Wednesday after talking with Mr. Gray’s relatives that justice matters more than speed. “Whatever time the state’s attorney needs to make that determination, the family wants to get it right,” she said.

The Rev. Jamal Bryant, who delivered Mr. Gray’s eulogy on Monday, said he had spent the morning visiting high schools, trying to debunk “a rumor going through the high schools that somehow or other, there was a verdict coming on Friday.”

A lawyer for the Gray family, Hassan Murphy, said that the Grays did not want a repeat of the arson, rock-throwing and looting seen Monday night. “They are terribly disappointed at what happened,” Mr. Murphy said.

People venturing outside on Wednesday found a weary, wary Baltimore, punctuated by one jarring scene after another. Protesters milled in the middle of intersections devoid of traffic and chatted with police officers in riot gear, workers cleaned up debris left by the rioting, and televisions showed the Orioles playing baseball in an empty stadium, kept clear of fans for security reasons. Most surreal of all was the image of armed National Guard troops in camouflage-painted vehicles joining the police in patrolling the city.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Larry Hogan warned, even as crowds gathered in the streets not only in Baltimore but also in several other major cities, including Washington and Boston.

Like the Baltimore civic leaders, the state’s attorney’s office also tried to lower expectations.

Receiving the police report is just part of the investigation process by the state’s attorney, said Rochelle Ritchie, the communications director for Ms. Mosby. “When the state’s attorney comes out and gives something, it’s going to be something substantial,” Ms. Ritchie said. “You’re not going to see little bits and pieces here and there. When it is time to come forward, we will do that. I can’t say when it’s going to be.”

The state chief medical examiner’s office has also warned that preparing an autopsy report usually takes 60 to 90 days. Even after the investigations finish, the prosecutor’s office, if it decides to seek charges, must present the case to a grand jury and ask for an indictment. If there are to be criminal charges, they probably remain months away.

Officials said another potential flash point is a demonstration planned for Saturday, organized by Malik Z. Shabazz, an activist who has likened the police to an occupation force. He has predicted a turnout of up to 10,000 people.

Mr. Shabazz said he planned to meet with city officials on Thursday “to make sure Saturday happens without incident.”

The governor summoned the National Guard on Monday, after peaceful demonstrations gave way to violence following Mr. Gray’s funeral. Mr. Hogan said about 2,000 troops had been deployed, along with more than 1,000 officers sent by other police forces in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Joining the Baltimore Police Department’s 3,000 officers, they increased the uniformed security forces to roughly double their usual size.

“This combined force will not tolerate violence or looting,” Mr. Hogan said.

The day after chaos erupted across Baltimore, people who were assembled near a looted CVS drugstore discussed the violence.

Neither the governor nor the mayor was willing to predict when the troops might be sent home. The mayor said the situation on the streets remained “very fluid,” and one of her aides predicted that the Guard would be in the city for at least a week.

The show of strength Tuesday night, coupled with a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, helped restore some peace to areas where fires had raged and officers had been pelted with bottles and rocks the night before. Twenty officers were injured, and two of them remained in the hospital late Wednesday, officials said.

The Police Department said it had arrested 35 people between 10 p.m. Tuesday and late afternoon Wednesday, compared with 209 in the same period 24 hours earlier. At an evening news conference, the police commissioner, Anthony Batts, said the arrests Wednesday were of 18 people — 16 adults and two juveniles. No city police officers were injured on Wednesday, he said.

Mr. Batts also sought to add his voice to the tamping down of expectations that information about the police investigation into Mr. Gray’s injuries and death would be immediately revealed once the department turns over its investigative findings to Ms. Mosby on Friday.

“If you’re anticipating actions, the action will be turning the investigation over to the state’s attorney, and from there, they will take the ball,” Mr. Batts said.

The investigation into Mr. Gray’s death could prove to be a trial by fire for Ms. Mosby, who took office in January, days before turning 35, and promptly replaced much of the staff in state’s attorney’s office. Making her first election run last year, Ms. Mosby — whose husband, Nick, is a city councilman — drew the support of much of the black establishment and defeated the incumbent, Gregg L. Bernstein, in the Democratic primary.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
She ran primarily on a platform of being tougher on violent criminals, but she also promised to be harder than Mr. Bernstein had been on police abuses. “I’m going to apply justice fairly, even to those who wear a badge,” she said during the campaign.

After being closed for a day, city schools reopened on Wednesday. The afternoon release of thousands of students, which coincided with the start of the unrest Monday, went off without serious incident Wednesday, as did multiple demonstrations.

Sabrina McKoy, 35, who lives in northwest Baltimore, said she was pleased that the violence had dissipated for now, but was skeptical of the city’s plans to keep the curfew in place.

“I understand why they did it, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” she said. “To me, people just acted out for a few hours.”

The city has a long record of allegations of police brutality, resulting in millions of dollars paid out in lawsuits. But the April 12 arrest of Mr. Gray, parts of which were caught on video, drew a more heated reaction than any previous case.

Officers reported that Mr. Gray had not been suspected of a crime, but that he had made contact with one of them and then ran, and they pursued and caught him. Officers accused him of possessing an illegal switchblade knife, handcuffed him and put him into a van for a ride to a police station.

At some point, Mr. Gray suffered a severe neck injury, but the video does not make it clear when, clouding the crucial question of who, if anyone, might have been responsible for it. Six police officers have been suspended while the case is under investigation. At a minimum, the police have acknowledged, he should have received medical care sooner. Mr. Gray died on April 19.

Richard Pérez-Peña and John Surico contributed reporting from New York.
State of Emergency for the Ruling Class: African American Youth Draw the Line in Baltimore City
Thousands in the streets taking control of communities and driving out authorities

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Baltimore youth raised the stakes in the struggle against police brutality on April 27 when they set off the largest urban rebellion in the recent period. Since Aug. 9, 2014, with the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the mood of militancy and mass action has accelerated throughout the United States.

In response to the demonstrations and rebellion, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has declared a “state of emergency” announcing the deployment of National Guard troops ostensibly to restore order. A curfew between 10:00pm and 5:00am was slated to go into effect on the evening of April 28.

Gov. Hogan in a press conference during the evening of April 27 in Baltimore said that he was moving his office and cabinet to the city to deal with the crisis and that he should have been called earlier by African American Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Such a statement and move was tantamount to a state takeover of local operations involving the crisis in the city.

The Gov. emphasized a militarized approach to “restoring order.” The mayor came under criticism for not taking harsh actions beginning on Sat. April 25 when the initial eruptions occurred in Camden Yards.

However, the mayor was aware that if hundreds of cops were sent in to the crowds of African American youth on the afternoon of April 27 a more violent and deadly situation could have occurred. Obviously the degree of anger and discontent among African Americans has reached a fever pitch in the city.

In an attempt to derail further youth protests, schools in Baltimore were closed on April 28.

Federal government offices and many businesses did not open while the Baltimore Orioles baseball game was cancelled. Some 5,000 cops from throughout the region and 1,500 National Guard troops called out by Gov. Hogan were being deployed establishing a police state in the city.

The use of lethal force, the launching of teargas canisters, sound grenades, LRAD and pepper spray could have created a situation where dozens may have died and suffered serious injury, many of whom would be African American youth. Such an immediate outcome from police repression of the rebellion would have broadened resistance and posed an even deeper political problem for Washington.

With this rebellion erupting less than fifty miles from the White House exposes even further the political bankruptcy of the administration of President Barack Obama. The so-called post-racial president has systematically refused to address the ongoing problems of national oppression and institutional racism in the U.S.

At a presidential press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on April 28, Obama attempted to avoid the issues surrounding African American national oppression, answering a question directed at Abe on the much-dreaded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his support for further globalization and predatory world capitalism. Later Obama said his thoughts were with both the family of Freddie Gray and the police who were injured.

Obama then went on to denounce the rebellion saying there was no excuse for violence. That the mass actions of the African American youth were counter-productive and that looting was not protesting but stealing.

The president went as far as to proclaim that attacking private property undermined the opportunities in the African American communities. He called for the stop of “this senseless violence.”

Then the president began to enunciate trivial efforts to address the problem of police-community relations. No initiatives were discussed to provide and guarantee jobs, housing, education, healthcare, utility services, access to water and other essentials of life.

The Obama administration has supported the undemocratic policies of forced removals of African Americans and the privatization of public assets. In Detroit, the administration issued a pseudo-legal rationale for the imposition of emergency management and bankruptcy that looted billions in pension funds, healthcare programs and public resources from a majority African American city.

Death in Detention of Freddie Gray Raises Level of Intolerance to Racism

It would take the death in police detention of 25-year-old Freddie Gray leading to anti-racist demonstrations in Baltimore that would set the stage for a rapid escalation in social defiance and political consciousness. However, the death of Gray was just the spark that ignited a long-simmering fire of anger and intolerance for injustice.

Baltimore has been a notorious center of police violence against the African American community. This factor is coupled with large-scale foreclosures of homes by the banks and the impending water shut-offs of tens of thousands of households in the city.

A demonstration on April 25 in downtown Baltimore at the Camden Yards, illustrated the changing character of the protests and rebellions, popularly characterized as “Black Lives Matter.”  These mass actions stemming from police misconduct but reflecting a much deeper level of national oppression and institutional racism have been both nonviolent and violent.

On April 27 high school students left schools and began to demonstrate against the police killing of Gray. Subsequently clashes erupted between the police and the youth resulting in the smashing of windows, the pelting of police and the destruction on law-enforcement vehicles.

Accounts from the news reports said of some of the actions on April 27 that:

--“Baltimore police issued a press release saying they had received a ‘credible threat’ against their officers.  According to the release ‘various gangs including the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods, and Crips have entered into a partnership to 'take out' law enforcement officers.’"

--“Police say that they have received reports that ‘several people are inside Mondawmin Mall looting and destroying property.’ Television images showed a group of people streaming into the mall.”

--“Just hours after Freddie Gray's funeral, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets, burning police cars, looting stores and facing off with police. Television images showed those demonstrators throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at a line of police officers in riot gear.”

--“Images from a television helicopter showed some demonstrators destroying a police vehicle. They showed others looting a CVS pharmacy, a Rite-Aid and small shops. What started as a confrontation between hundreds of protesters and riot police quickly turned into a melee covering multiple neighborhoods. Baltimore police said that 15 officers had been hurt in the clashes. Some suffered broken bones and two of them are still hospitalized.”

--“A huge fire has consumed a senior citizen center that was under construction in East Baltimore, but police have been unable to connect it to the riots thus far, the Baltimore Sun reports. At least 10 firefighting companies were attempting to control the blaze, at the corner of North Chester and East Lanvale streets, and keep it from spreading to nearby houses, firefighters said.”

Counter-insurgency and Psychological Operations

Corporate and government media commentators seek to divide the resistance movement between those who engage in what is considered “legally protected” forms of dissent as opposed to acts of property destruction and attacks on law-enforcement. These apparent two forms of action often overlap, where it will only take provocations by the police to turn a peaceful demonstration into a mass rebellion.

Blocking access to highways, major thoroughfares, shopping malls, major sports venues, entertainment and financial districts, cuts into the profit-making system. Images of African American youth throwing missiles at the cops, smashing police vehicles and liberating consumer goods from businesses, the setting of fires in strategic locations to block access by the authorities into areas that have been taken over by the those in rebellion, illustrates the growing sense of outrage not only against law-enforcement but challenging the structures of racial capitalism.

Cable news television stations and their local counterparts are quick to put a spin on the events seeking to ignore the fundamental class and national oppression so prevalent in the U.S. Showing youth attacking private property is explained as criminal activity while the police are portrayed as victims of youth gangs out to commits acts of burglary and arson.

At the same time highlighting scenes of people coming to clean up after the destruction of stores and police property focusing on the volunteer nature of the community and refusing to point out that the municipal administrations are absent. That the mayor’s office which calls for calm and the restoration of order is never questioned about why these same youth and their communities have been ignored for decades.

Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake says that the rebellion is destroying progress made over the years. Media pundits portray low-wage employee chain stores as “assets to the community.”

No serious analysis is done by the corporate media over the nature of this so-called “progress” in Baltimore. These putative “development policies” serve to remove African American poor and working class communities while empowering a white-dominated ruling and middle class buffered by a comprador African American bureaucratic bourgeoisie which works on behalf of the banks and corporations in subservience to the law-enforcement agencies and the state government.

All of sudden the people are portrayed as destroying their own communities. The communities become theirs when they rise up in rebellion but not when capital seeks to seize people’s homes and turn off their water resources.

During this period when the state and corporate entities want to enforce the supremacy of the ruling class, there is generally no discussion about the people’s ownership of where they live and work. The narrative is centered on the imperative that the oppressed and working people must pay their predatory loans and inflated utility bills.

Appeals for personal responsibility and parental assertion of control, only applies during the urban rebellion. Whether these same youth and adults have decent jobs and economic opportunities never enter into the discussion because the one percent has nothing to offer beyond minimum wage employment, state repression, mass incarceration and economic exploitation.

It is the mayor who is responsible for actions of the police. The city administration approves the changes in zoning laws, allowing corporate financial interests to engage in large-scale removals of African Americans and other oppressed neighborhoods for the benefit of the profit system.

Mass Demonstrations and Rebellions Points to Need for Fundamental Change

The escalation in the liberation struggle of African Americans since last summer represents the worsening social conditions in urban areas throughout the U.S. These problems cannot be solved under the existing system of racial capitalism.

Wealth created by the majority of the working class and oppressed must be distributed equitably in the U.S. in order for social peace to take hold. What we are witnessing in various cities from Ferguson to Oakland and Baltimore portends much for the rest of the country where the same issues remain unresolved since the era of Civil Rights and Black political empowerment of the 1960s and 1970s.

To ensure a fundamental advancement in the national liberation movement, the youth and workers must be organized into revolutionary formations which provide the political education and long-term planning aimed at addressing the crisis at its base. It is the banks and corporations who have systematically disenfranchised and impoverished the masses of people in the U.S. Any solution to the crisis must hold the ruling interests accountable for the monumental crimes committed against the people.

There should be a halt to all foreclosures and evictions in Baltimore. The water shut-offs must be immediately stopped.

All youth and adults seeking meaningful employment, economic opportunities and quality education must be provided with these resources. National Guard troops and police should be withdrawn from the African American communities. The people must be empowered to both define and pursue their fundamental human, political and economic rights to peace, living wages, quality housing and schools leading to total community control and self-determination. 
Saudi-GCC States Continue Bombardment of Yemen
Imperialist-backed war enters second month amid worsening humanitarian crisis

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

There is no let-up in the United States supported Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) war against Yemen. As the death toll mounts, Riyahd and its allies representing the ousted government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi have rejected efforts aimed at declaring a ceasefire and re-opening political dialogue among the various political forces in the country.

Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh urged the various groups involved in the struggle for political power to accept the United Nations proposals requesting the withdrawal from territories contested in the fighting. Saleh still maintains influence in Yemen through his General People’s Congress which was the subject of massive protests during 2011.

Saleh left office in a transitional agreement that was designed to pave the way for a more inclusive government. However, the problems of the country could not be fully resolved with U.S. and Saudi interventions aimed at maintaining western influence in this underdeveloped state.

An alliance between elements within the military who are still loyal to Saleh and the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis) has taken control of large sections of the country. Saudi-GCC airstrikes have destroyed residential areas resulting in anywhere between 1,000-2,800 deaths.

Despite an announcement on April 21 that it was suspending air strikes against Yemen, the Saudi-GCC alliance has continued to bomb indiscriminately across the central and southern regions of the country. Civilians were killed in numerous airstrikes over the last few days even though the Saudi foreign ministry says that it is "winding down its campaign."

Saudi foreign ministry statements indicate that they do not want any enhanced authority for the Ansurallah to come out of negotiations for a new political dispensation in Yemen. Such a position will only intensify the war that threatens to spread further throughout the region.

United Nations Envoy Says Deal Was Near Prior to Bombing

Jamal Benomar who recently resigned as the UN envoy to Yemen, noted in a recent statement that a political agreement was being worked out prior to the Saudi-GCC aerial bombardments. Although the adoption of a broad peace plan would be difficult, there was no need other than purely imperialist aims for Saudi Arabia to begin the bombing of the country on March 26.

Benomar said that “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis. A very detailed agreement was being worked out, but there was one important issue on which there was no agreement, and that was what to do with the presidency. We were under no illusion that implementation of this would be easy.” (Wall Street Journal, April 26)

The former envoy was scheduled to meet behind closed doors with the Security Council on April 27. Benomar also revealed that the Houthis were prepared to accept a lesser position than the presidency yet this was still not enough for the Saudis.

Qatar and Morocco were prepared to host a new round of peace talks. However, when both countries joined the coalition backing the Saudi-GCC airstrikes, the Ansurallah withdrew from the proposal, rightly noting that neither state could be objective in such negotiations.

Hadi then proposed that talks be held in Riyadh but of course this was rejected by the Ansurallah movement. There could be no real talks while the Saudis continued to bomb the country and to support Sunni elements that were hostile to the Houthis.

Another issue which created consternation was the framework of the new government in Yemen including 30 percent of the cabinet and parliamentary posts being allocated to women. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies still maintain oppressive conditions for women as a matter of state law.

Nonetheless, the further exposure of Saudi Arabia in blocking UN peace initiatives illustrates clearly that the monarchy, backed by Washington, is committed to maintaining imperialist domination in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Peninsula and the waterways between Africa and western Asia. The bombing since late March has not won the desired results by Riyadh.

Iran, which is supporting the Shiite –based Ansurallah movement is a target of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Tehran’s influence in Yemen is a worrisome development for both the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as well as the monarchies throughout the GCC region. Reports indicate that Iranian warships have pulled back from potential conflicts with U.S. and allied naval vessels.

On April 25, a new UN envoy to Yemen was appointed from the North African state of Mauritania. This country, like Morocco, maintains close ties with Washington through the so-called Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) coordinated “war on terrorism.”

War Escalates Amid Growing Humanitarian Crisis

The US-supported war has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The Saudis have prevented aid from entering the country. The situation in the hospitals is atrocious.

April 26 was marked by some of the most intense bombing since the war began. Air strikes were carried out in at least five locations around the presidential palace in Sanaa.

In the southern port city of Aden, GCC warships pounded areas inland as fighting intensified between supporters of the Houthi and Saleh loyalist forces against Sunni militias that are supported by Saudi Arabia. Reports say that more people were killed and displaced from their homes in both Sanaa and Aden.

One resident of Sanaa named Jamal said “The explosions were so big they shook the house, waking us and our kids up. Life has really become unbearable in this city.”

In pursuit of what they consider a victory over the resistance forces in Yemen, the Saudi-GCC coalition is continuing the bombing. With the war being largely suppressed over the U.S. news networks, most people in America, including the anti-war, peace and left movements, have been virtually silent on developments in Yemen.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan traveled to the King Fahd airbase in Saudi Arabia’s Taif on April 26 to reiterate the monarchy’s allegiance to the Saudi-led and Pentagon-CIA supported war in Yemen. “Our only choice is victory in the test of Yemen,” the prince told the international press.

Support inside of Yemen for the Houthis and their allies have accelerated where on April 22 there was a huge demonstration in Sanaa opposing the Saudi-GCC air strikes demanding an end to the hostilities. Saudi-allied militias have blocked humanitarian aid convoys in an effort to force the Ansurallah into submission.

In addition to the heavy fighting in Sanaa and Aden, intense battles are also continuing in the strategically important central city of Taiz. There Saudi-allied Sunni forces and other Islamist militias reportedly attacked several districts where the Houthis have dominated over the last several months.

People in Taiz report that battles were raging street-by-street in the city of some three million inhabitants. Both supporters and opponents of the Ansurallah are utilizing tanks and artillery in residential areas.

“The heaviest street fighting is taking place in Taiz. Airstrikes also continued in Aden,” said the International Committee of the Red Cross representative Sitara Jabeen said.

“Our convoys were blocked from going to Aden and Marib over the weekend and we are in discussions with the Houthis to resolve that,” Jabeen told Reuters press agency. The war being waged in Yemen is strikingly similar to the militarism of the U.S. and Israel.

The war has escalated already existing regional tensions pitting Iran against the GCC states.  The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, drew an analogy related to Saudi Arabia and Israel. "Saudi Arabia is following in the Zionist regime's footsteps in the Islamic world," Jafari told the official IRNA news agency.