Cops and Freddie Gray protesters clash in New York as thousands take to the streets of six American cities

April 29, 2015

Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin

Cops and Freddie Gray protesters clash in New York as thousands take to the streets of six American cities on a third night of anger

  • Protests in the name of Freddie Gray were held in Baltimore, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Houston and Indianapolis Wednesday night 
  • At least 120 protesters arrested during the New York march when they started walking in the street, blocking traffic
  • The protest in Baltimore was mostly peaceful, and dispersed by the mandated 10pm curfew 
  • The governor of Maryland instituted a 10pm to 5am curfew after demonstration in the city turned to looking, rioting and arson Monday night 
  • Gov Larry Hogan also called 2,000 National Guardsmen and 1,000 cops to enforce the curfew   
  • The city has been the scene of near nightly protests ever since the unexplained death of Gray, who it’s believed was fatally injured in police custody
  • Gray’s death is still under investigation and police announced Wednesday that they would NOT be making their report public on Friday as originally expected   

By Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com and Associated Press and James Nye For Dailymail.com

Outrage over the unexplained death of a black man in Baltimore, Maryland prompted nationwide protests against police brutality on Wednesday from Houston to Boston.

Baltimore has been the scene of near-nightly protests ever since the April 19 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who is believed to have been fatally injured while in police custody.

However, the most dramatic protests Wednesday night happened in New York City, where a group of activists started an illegal march resulting in the arrests of several protesters in scuffles with police officers trying to maintain order on the streets.

Activists started gathering after 5pm in New York’s Union Square, with police warning over loud speakers that they would start making arrests if the group moved out of the park.

Cops followed through on that threat when defiant leaders of the group started moving the masses onto the street – blocking traffic during the city’s rush hour.

Despite initial clashes with cops, the protest re-grouped several blocks to the west where they started marching northbound on the sidewalk of a major highway. Police appear to have left the protesters pretty much alone, escorting them on their march and only intervening when they stepped out into the streets.

At one point, the group formed a line at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel on the city’s west side – one of two main tunnels that lead to New Jersey.

Clashes: Police in New York City started arresting protesters when they moved their gathering out of Union Square and onto the streets 

Clashes: Police in New York City started arresting protesters when they moved their gathering out of Union Square and onto the streets

Stay put: As the large group gathered in New York Wednesday evening, police were heard warning the crowds that they could be arrested it they decided to take their demonstration to the streets 

Stay put: As the large group gathered in New York Wednesday evening, police were heard warning the crowds that they could be arrested it they decided to take their demonstration to the streets

Getting attention: Despite the earlier police action, the New York protests picked up again a few blocks west, blocking traffic into the Holland Tunnel at peak rush hour for drivers returning to New Jersey

Getting attention: Despite the earlier police action, the New York protests picked up again a few blocks west, blocking traffic into the Holland Tunnel at peak rush hour for drivers returning to New Jersey

Good luck getting home: The Holland Tunnel is one of the busiest tunnels out of the city to New Jersey under the Hudson River 

Good luck getting home: The Holland Tunnel is one of the busiest tunnels out of the city to New Jersey under the Hudson River 

Meanwhile, across the nation thousands took part in similar demonstrations in Baltimore, Boston, DC, Houston and Indianapolis.

The student-led protest in Baltimore began around 5:30pm at John Hopkins University and quickly grew to include more than 1,000 as they made their way to city hall holding signs reading ‘black lives matter’ and ‘black youth are not thugs’.

In one segment of the demonstration, protesters could be heard chanting: ‘Back up, back up, we want freedom. All these racist-a** cops we don’t need them.’

Gray’s death is just the latest to be connected to the national issue of police violence towards African Americans, inspiring protests not only in Baltimore but in several other major cities across the country. As the youth of Baltimore marched Wednesday evening, twin protests sprung up in New York, Boston and Washington DC, following demonstrations in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri the night before.  

‘It’s great, the young people are doing what they should be doing. They should be sending a message that they want answers,’ Baltimore Councilman Brandon Scott told the Baltimore Sun.

Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 for carrying a switchblade and within an hour was in the hospital for serious spinal injuries. He died a week later, and the Department of Justice is currently investigating whether the cops who arrested Gray are responsible for causing his fatal injuries.

After similar demonstrations turned to rioting and looting Monday night, Gov Larry Hogan instituted a mandatory 10pm to 5am curfew. About 2,000 National Guardsmen and 1,000 police officers will be enforcing the curfew.

‘We’re going to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst,’ Gov Hogan said at an afternoon press conference.

Diondre ‘Grim’ Jackson was one of the students marching Wednesday night, and he said he is ‘living proof there is goodness…in this community.’

‘Everyone says youth have no voice. This is showing them youth are willing to use their voice for justice,’ the senior at Frederick Douglass High School told the Baltimore Sun.

Towson University student Koren Johnson, 19, one of the march’s organizers, added: ‘We do have opinions. We’re the ones getting murdered in the streets.’

At an afternoon press conference, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said there were no major incidents on Wednesday and that he had high hopes for peace on the streets at night. He said 16 adults and two juveniles had been arrested throughout the day, but he would not divulge the charges.

Batts press conference came just minutes after it was announced that about half of the protesters who arrested in the rioting on Monday would be released without being charged. However, Batts said these individuals could be hit with charges later.

BALTIMORE: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Baltimore, Maryland Wednesday evening to march for Freddie Gray, the local man who died last week after police arrested him for carrying a switch blade 

BALTIMORE: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Baltimore, Maryland Wednesday evening to march for Freddie Gray, the local man who died last week after police arrested him for carrying a switch blade

NEW YORK: As students led a march for Gray in Baltimore Wednesday night, demonstrators gathered in New York's Union Square. Police started arresting these protesters when they started moving onto the streets

NEW YORK: As students led a march for Gray in Baltimore Wednesday night, demonstrators gathered in New York’s Union Square. Police started arresting these protesters when they started moving onto the streets

WASHINGTON, DC: Protesters in Washington DC also marched on Wednesday from the Chinatown neighborhood to the White House

WASHINGTON, DC: Protesters in Washington DC also marched on Wednesday from the Chinatown neighborhood to the White House

BOSTON: A group of about 1,000 also gathered in Boston on Wednesday, protesting Gray’s death outside of Boston police headquarters

A New York City Police officer wraps his arm around a protester during a march in Manhattan Wednesday night

A New York City Police officer wraps his arm around a protester during a march in Manhattan Wednesday night

One female protester looks exceptionally unhappy to be taken into custody by NYPD Wednesday night 

One female protester looks exceptionally unhappy to be taken into custody by NYPD Wednesday night

 Early on in the march, reporters on the scene said a few dozen protesters had been taken into custody. However, a segment of the march continued on despite the police action, moving to the West Side Highway several blocks to the west of Union Square 

 Early on in the march, reporters on the scene said a few dozen protesters had been taken into custody. However, a segment of the march continued on despite the police action, moving to the West Side Highway several blocks to the west of Union Square

New York Police Department officers detain a protester during a march through Manhattan Wednesday night 

New York Police Department officers detain a protester during a march through Manhattan Wednesday night

A protester in all black smiles as he’s arrested by police in New York City on Wednesday, during a demonstration against police brutality

A protester holds up his hands in front of a police line during a demonstration in New York City on Wednesday 

A protester holds up his hands in front of a police line during a demonstration in New York City on Wednesday

NYPD officers surround a protester near Union Square in New York City on Wednesday, as protesters started to march 

NYPD officers surround a protester near Union Square in New York City on Wednesday, as protesters started to march

New York police officers used white plastic zip tie handcuffs to take protesters into custody Wednesday evening 

New York police officers used white plastic zip tie handcuffs to take protesters into custody Wednesday evening

In solidarity with Boston, other demonstrations also look place in Washington, DC and Boston.

The protest in Boston started just before 8pm Wednesday night outside police headquarters, and the group of about 1,000 then moved towards Dudley Square with some chanting ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ and ‘no justice, no peace’.

The Boston police commissioner issued a statement, asking the protesters to remain peaceful.

‘We are concerned about the kids who show up at these protests hell bent on causing problems,’ Comissioner William Evans said. ‘It’s the small splinter groups such as Occupy. … We see them out at every protest.’

Meanwhile, a group in the nation’s capitol, just a half-hour north of Baltimore, marched from Chinatown to the White house to make their statement against police brutality.

‘I’m out here tonight because change has to happen,’ Maryland resident Sherita Sweeney, 30, told the Washington Post. ‘Sitting behind your laptop, tablet or cellphone complaining – you’re part of the problem, not the solution.’

In downtown Indianapolis, more than two dozen protesters marched around Monument Circle chanting ‘no racist police’ and carrying signs with slogans that included ‘I’m not scared of the apocalypse. I’m scared of a copalypse.’

Several dozen people have demonstrated at a busy Houston intersection to protest the death of a black man in the custody of Baltimore police.

About 50 people gathered Wednesday evening at the intersection near the south Houston campus of historically black Texas Southern University. Some were holding placards bearing such slogans as ‘Honk For Justice’ and ‘America’s Worst Nightmare.’

The protesters were outnumbered by the police presence that included officers mounted on horseback and flying overhead in a helicopter. An ambulance and a bus were on standby.

The city of Baltimore is currently under a mandatory 10pm to 5am curfew. Many protesters in the crowds on Wednesday said they would be heeding the curfew and disbanding after nightfall  

The city of Baltimore is currently under a mandatory 10pm to 5am curfew. Many protesters in the crowds on Wednesday said they would be heeding the curfew and disbanding after nightfall

A New York City police officer arrests a protester wearing a blue shirt at a march for Freddie Gray on Wednesday 

A New York City police officer arrests a protester wearing a blue shirt at a march for Freddie Gray on Wednesday

Police officers moved on the group when the protesters left the park and started marching in the street

Protesters in New York City gather next to a banner that reads 'Black Lives Matter' at a demonstration in Union Square on Wednesday

Protesters in New York City gather next to a banner that reads ‘Black Lives Matter’ at a demonstration in Union Square on Wednesday

Gray's death last week, believed to have been caused by injuries sustained in police custody, has sparked protests not only in Baltimore but across the nation. Above, a protester holds up a sign in New York's Union Square during a demonstration there on Wednesday

Gray’s death last week, believed to have been caused by injuries sustained in police custody, has sparked protests not only in Baltimore but across the nation. Above, a protester holds up a sign in New York’s Union Square during a demonstration there on Wednesday

The nation's capital: Hundreds in Washington, DC - just a half-hour north of Baltimore - held their own march on Wednesday night, which ended at the White House

The nation’s capital: Hundreds in Washington, DC – just a half-hour north of Baltimore – held their own march on Wednesday night, which ended at the White House

Earlier in the day, the Baltimore Orioles played the Chicago White Sox to an empty Camden Yards Stadium – after it was decided to ban spectators from the event due to safety concerns.

It was the first time in Major League baseball history that a game had been held without fans.

The players took the field to an otherwise eerily silent stadium with 45,000 empty seats and the Orioles romped home to an 8-2 victory, after it was decided spectators would be banned from the game.

‘After conversations with the Orioles and local officials, we believe that these decisions are in the best interests of fan safety and the deployment of city resources,’ MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

‘Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by violence in Baltimore, and everyone in our game hopes for peace and the safety of a great American city.’

Sirens could be heard ringing outside during the game as a reminder the city is still reeling following Monday’s tumultuous riots that hit after Gray’s funeral.

Orioles Manager, Buck Showalter made light of the situation before the game with a timely joke: ‘Does the mascot work today?’ As it turned it out, the Orioles Bird was given a day off.

‘I agree that Baltimore needs to get back to normal,’ Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president, told MSNBC. ‘But until they get back to normal, I think that the comfort of our fans and public safety are paramount concerns for the Orioles. And I think that we had to keep that in mind during this challenging time.’

In Baltimore, after drug stores were set on fire and the National Guard had to be called in to restore order, they played the game because this was Chicago’s only planned visit to the city.

The postponed games on Monday and Tuesday were to be made up as part of a doubleheader on May 28, but there was seemingly nowhere to go on the schedule with Wednesday’s game.

The student-led protest kicked off at John Hopkins University and grew to more than 1,000 as they marched towards Baltimore city hall. The group pictured outside city hall above 

The student-led protest kicked off at John Hopkins University and grew to more than 1,000 as they marched towards Baltimore city hall. The group pictured outside city hall above

Baltimore resident Joey Christopher yells at members of the National Guard on Wednesday. ABout 2,000 National Guardsmen were called in to restore peace to the city after demonstrations Monday turned violent

Baltimore resident Joey Christopher yells at members of the National Guard on Wednesday. ABout 2,000 National Guardsmen were called in to restore peace to the city after demonstrations Monday turned violent

Demonstrators march in Baltimore, Maryland Wednesday night as 3,000 National Guardsmen and cops set up to enforce a mandatory nightly curfew

Demonstrators march in Baltimore, Maryland Wednesday night as 3,000 National Guardsmen and cops set up to enforce a mandatory nightly curfew

People march in protest against police violence in Boston, Massachusetts April 29, 2015

People march in protest against police violence in Boston, Massachusetts April 29, 2015

Protesters against police violence stop traffic at a major intersection in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC as they begin a march towards the White House in Washington, April 29, 2015.

Protesters against police violence stop traffic at a major intersection in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC as they begin a march towards the White House in Washington, April 29, 2015.

So they moved up the starting time by five hours to 2:05pm to beat the 10 o’clock curfew and had the teams go at it before 47,000 empty seats.

The baseball game was played out to a backdrop of accusations Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered the police to stand down as riots and looting broke out across they city.

According to a senior law enforcement source, the embattled mayor effectively told her officers to do nothing as the city began to burn – raising questions as to whether the rioting could have been stopped.

Asked by Fox News if the mayor was responsible for the order, the source said, ‘You are God damn right it was.’

Despite strenuous denials from the mayor herself, this news comes as Baltimore returned to relative calm after the chaos of Monday night as public schools reopened their doors and people returned to work on a bright spring morning.

This new revelation follows fierce criticism of the Democrat mayor and her handling of the entire crisis since Freddie Gray died on April 19 from wounds sustained from his April 12 arrest.

Indeed, over the weekend, the mayor said she was backing off, lest she encourage those ‘who wished to destroy’.

Indeed, the mayor denied she told her officers to stand-off the rioters on Monday and in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, repeated this.

‘You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately,’ said Blake.

In addition to accusations of being a soft-touch, the mayor has had to deny accusations she took far too long to declare an emergency and request the National Guard.

Governor Larry Hogan said that he didn’t exercise his executive authority and send the troops in, because ‘We didn’t think it was appropriate to come in and take over the city without the request of the mayor.’

However, he did say that as soon as the mayor phoned him, ‘it was about 30 seconds before we completely activated all of the resources that we had to bear.’

HIstoric: The teams took to the field and the PA system played the National Anthem to an empty Camden Yards as the first ever MLB game played behind closed doors got underway 

Historic: The teams took to the field and the PA system played the National Anthem to an empty Camden Yards as the first ever MLB game played behind closed doors got underway

Chicago White Sox Gordon Beckham sits in the dugout during their American League baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards

Chicago White Sox Gordon Beckham sits in the dugout during their American League baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards

Alright for some and not for others: People lucky enough to have a birds-eye-view over Camden Yards watch the game on Wednesday while another fan reminds everyone why the game is being played behind closed doors

Blake dismissed this and said, ‘We responded very quickly to a very difficult situation. ‘It’s understandable to armchair quarterback and second-guess, but there is a very delicate balancing act that you have to do in order to respond but not over-respond.’

Regardless, with the city effectively shut down yesterday following Monday’s fiery city-wide riots, the resumption of the morning rush proved a vindication for the stringent curfew put in place last night.

Enforced by 3,000 extra police and National Guardsmen, the streets that had been rocked by massive unrest were quiet following the ending of the curfew at 5am with no reports of disturbances in the early hours.

Indeed, going on the numbers alone, the curfew was a resounding success.

On Monday, 235 people – including 34 juveniles were arrested, 19 buildings set ablaze, 20 police injured and 144 vehicles torched.

On Tuesday, 10 people were arrested and one police officer was injured.

But life is unlikely to get completely back to normal anytime soon: The curfew is set to go back into effect again tonight at 10 p.m and the city will once again hold its breath as tensions remain high.

‘While things are way better than they are its not over yet,’ said Governor Larry Hogan.

‘We still have concerns of possible unrest’.

Attempting to keep expectations low, Hogan said that along with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake they can’t promise that respect for the rule of law has returned to the city.

‘You can’t ensure that there’s not going to be any unrest. I’m not a magician,’ Hogan said to the Baltimore Sun . ‘What I can assure you is that we will put all the resources that we have at our disposal to make sure that disturbances don’t get out of hand.’

Hands up: Thousands of police officers and National Guardsmen started marching on a small group of defiant protesters who refused to heed a curfew in Baltimore, Maryland Tuesday night 

Hands up: Thousands of police officers and National Guardsmen started marching on a small group of defiant protesters who refused to heed a curfew in Baltimore, Maryland Tuesday night

Refusing to move: Protesters defy curfew and lay in the street in front of police officers the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray

Refusing to move: Protesters defy curfew and lay in the street in front of police officers the night after citywide riots over the death of Freddie Gray

 

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