Baltimore

Celebratory Protests in Baltimore

Charm City activists react to the Freddie Gray indictments.

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About to pass the Inner Harbor
Jesse Walker

The plan had been to demand an indictment of the six officers who had captured and transported Freddie Gray, the young man who died in police custody here in Baltimore last month. But by the time the supporters of Baltimore United for Change had assembled downtown yesterday afternoon for their march, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby had announced that the cops were all being charged.

That gave the gathering a celebratory air. It also made the demands more open-ended. Molly Amster, the Baltimore director of Jews United for Justice, announced before the parade began that "we're not done just because we got an indictment….People need equality of opportunity, equality of education, equality of housing." By the time we'd marched to City Hall and various speakers started addressing the crowd, a more specific cause was getting mentioned with particular frequency: to reform the state's Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, which among other provisions gives cops accused of misconduct a 10-day cooling-off period before they have to tell investigators anything.

An ad, not a demand
Jesse Walker

When the Baltimore United demonstrators arrived at City Hall, they filled about half the square in front of the building. The throng grew larger as the afternoon progressed. At one point another march, coming from who-knows-where, materialized on the north end of the plaza, and suddenly the place felt packed. Besides the protesters and reporters, there were human rights observers from Amnesty International and legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild. (The city had issued "peacekeeper passes" to some of the Amnesty people, allowing them to stay out after the 10 p.m. curfew. But that night the passes would be revoked, with the city claiming that counterfeits were floating around.) There was also a fellow with a sign that said "Free Cake." This turned out to be not a demand but an advertisement: He and some friends were giving out cake.

And then there were the well-armed National Guardsmen lined up between the demonstrators and City Hall. Across the road, up on a roof, yet more troops were in position, ready to shoot.

I should've asked if she had just made the sign that afternoon or if she'd had two different signs prepared.
Jesse Walker

The only public official to receive any praise from protesters, at least when I was in earshot, was Mosby. Gov. Larry Hogan was damned for blocking reforms of the LEO Bill of Rights. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was derided for imposing a 10:00 curfew, and for generally seeming to be in over her head. I baited one activist, an old friend of mine who would prefer I not quote her by name on this subject, by bringing up Martin O'Malley, the former Baltimore mayor, former Maryland governor, and likely presidential candidate who had made a big point after the riot earlier this week of cutting short a European tour to return to the city. "I like candidate O'Malley," my friend told me, alluding to his decision to run to Hillary Clinton's left. "But Mayor O'Malley…" She rolled her eyes, then brought up the hecklers who've been giving the man a hard time when he pops up in different places around town. O'Malley played a big role in amping up the aggressiveness of the Baltimore police, and the unrest here hasn't done his campaign any favors.

When the Baltimore United rally formally ended, some protesters stayed in the square while another group paraded away. I thought about following the march, but I stuck around a while to watch some people cause trouble for Geraldo Rivera, banging a homemade drum and otherwise creating the sort of racket that makes it difficult to do a TV report:

This was actually a little friendlier than the reception he had gotten when he first showed his face. At one point, well over half the crowd had been chanting "Go home!" at him.

What protest is complete without them?
Jesse Walker

By the time I was ready to leave, I wasn't sure where the marchers had gone. I decided the best way to find them was to follow the flock of police helicopters, who at that point were hovering several blocks away. I fell in with a group of women in headscarves, one of them carrying an NAACP sign. They had gotten the same idea. Gradually more people joined us as the choppers moved further north. We checked our phones, looking for updates on the protest's location. We heard the marchers were passing the prison. By the time we got there, with one guy shouting his support out a window (or shouting something, anyway), we heard they were at the train station. By the time we got there, we heard the march had entered West Baltimore.

But which march? By this time, we were a pretty long line of people ourselves. Drivers were honking and yelling encouragement as they passed us, some of them raising their fists in power-to-the-people salutes. One of the headscarved women looked over her shoulder and gave a surprised start. "Are all those people following us?" she asked.

"We're following each other," a protester replied. Typed out like that, it looks like some sort of metaphor. But he meant it literally, and he was right.

Celebrating at Penn North
Jesse Walker

Finally, on North Avenue, we caught up with the tail end of the march—or, perhaps, the tail end of another group of people looking for the march. At this point, I didn't think there was a difference. We ended up at Penn North, a West Baltimore neighborhood had been hit hard by the rioting a few nights earlier but now was in block-party mode. A caravan of cars drove through the street. Some had people standing on top of them. Little kids stuck their heads out the car windows, holding Justice for Freddie Grey signs. A jazz band jammed on the corner. Some friendly folks were handing out pie. Two strangers realized that they were both comic-book fans. "Nerds unite!" one yelled. "It's Avengers day too!" the other shouted back happily.

Even the National Guard was in a good mood, returning waves from the children in the cars. When a passing van cranked up "Fuck the Police," it cracked some of the Guardsmen up.

Thank you, Antifederalists!
Jesse Walker

This demonstration had a demand too. "Convict all six!" a man shouted. "That's the new stuff!" Behind him a guy wore a CONVICT ALL SIX t-shirt. (That was fast.) Posters around the neighborhood featured the full text of the Bill of Rights with a dreadlocked figure raising a fist. I passed a rowhouse with one handlettered sign on the door and another between the windows. The first said, "FREDDIE'S FINAL 30 MIN.: SHACKLED IN PAIN. END POLICE TERROR!" The second said, "MURDERERS SHOULDN'T GET PAID VACATIONS. DISARM THE POLICE."

On the subway back downtown, an old guy named Benny plopped down in the seat behind me. "I've had about enough protest for life," he said. His feet were tired. Mine too.

Protesting on the stoop
Jesse Walker

"I support what they're doing," he told me. "Well, not the people who were looting." He paused. "They were destroying their own neighborhood. They could have gone to where the rich people live, but they're too scared." Another pause, while he realized how that last remark might be construed. "Not that I'm saying they should do that," he added. "It's just, why destroy your own shit?"

Off the train, I made my way back to City Hall, where the plaza was still filled with protesters. As a row of grim-looking cops filed past me, a bunch of civilians started humming the Darth Vader theme. Someone was speaking to the crowd, and he had a big Workers World Party banner behind him. I ran into my anarchocommie friend Flint Arthur sitting off to the side. "This is the hardcore socialist and anarchist left," he said, gesturing to the demonstrators. He informed me that the crowd had voted to defy the curfew, but that they hoped the mayor would revoke the rule before 10.

"Are you here to take a stand for freedom of movement after dark?" he asked, his voice adopting a mildly ironic tone.

I patted a piece of paper in my pocket. "In theory," I told him, "I can stay out after 10, because I'm credentialed press."

"Oh, you're gonna pull that," he chuckled.

"But I'm not sure I can get away with it," I continued. "I called up the police to ask what sort of credentials I needed, and they said whatever my publication provided should suffice. My boss told me to make my own, so I printed up this press pass, and I was gonna buy a lanyard and a badge holder at Staples on the way into town. But they'd been looted." Without the lanyard, my credentials' homemade quality was perhaps a bit too obvious, and I didn't know how forgiving the cops were going to be. Flint found this funny. So did I, actually.

By 10 the protesters had mostly dispersed, despite the earlier vote to stay. (There's a voice/exit lesson in there somewhere.) The cops made a few arrests, or so I hear; me and my DIY press badge departed about 15 minutes before the crackdown hour. If I want to report from inside a jail cell, I'm sure I'll have plenty more opportunities between now and the six cops' trial.

NEXT: W. Joseph Campbell on the Year the Future Started

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  1. “I like candidate O’Malley,” my friend told me, alluding to his decision to run to Hillary Clinton’s left. “But Mayor O’Malley…” She rolled her eyes…

    Jesus Christ. Do people not realize people rarely change. If enough of them vote for Candidate O’Malley he’ll have a whole country to fuck up, not just Baltimore.

    And no one will ever address the real underlying problem here, because it’s root is all of us. We keep demanding that they criminalize or regulate every possible human endeavor.

    1. “We keep demanding that they criminalize or regulate every possible human endeavor.”

      Don’t forget subsidize.

      1. That, too.

        (Also, I apologize for using the wrong “its” in that last paragraph. I hope the mistake didn’t offend anyone too badly.)

      2. An old line from Ronald Reagan about liberals approach to governing: “If it moves, regulate it. If it doesn’t move, subsidize it.”

      3. America–you can thank the liberal politicians and the lying liberal press for all the riots.
        When we elected President Obama, weren’t we promised “hope and change”? It seems like his years as president have only torn our nation apart.

        We now have race riots in our streets. I’ve never seen a country more divided. We all hate each other now.

        They say a good economy cures all. Many of our citizens have had their jobs taken away along with their health insurance. The middle class is shrinking and its not getting any better.

        Obama and Co have destroyed everything they’ve tried “to fix”. My health insurance is $450/month, my taxes are closing in on 50% (in NYC), and even my subway pass is now over $100/month (in NYC). Stuff that is still private enterprise is super cheap. Car insurance ($25/month from Insurance Panda), cell phone ($22/month from T Mobile), and gym ($15/month from Planet Fitness).

        You can thank our president who sides with the thugs and blames the police. You can thank the black mayors of these cities who just turn their heads. You can thank the liberal news media for convicting the police before all the facts come out. You can thank racists like Al Sharpton who is more popular with the liberal press then the Pope. Get all these incompetent fools out of office. Vote Republican in 2016. Bring law and order back to America.

    2. Who is “we”? Because it sure as fuck isn’t me.

      The problem isn’t “us” demanding criminalization, the problem is that it’s all politicians know how to do. Their ratchet only goes one way with pitifully few exceptions. They don’t repeal laws, they just make more. If one law is a problem, they write another. And then when that one is a problem, they write another. And this also serves the purposes of those who become politicians, because it increases their power. All the incentives are terrible and produce the exact opposite of what one would want. Yet everyone keeps going “if we just tweak the system the right way this time, it’ll work!” And then it doesn’t. And then their response is…”let’s tweak the system the right way THIS time, it’ll work now!” Rinse, repeat.

      Just like we see this woman going “O’Malley was terrible, but as ‘candidate’ O’Malley, I like him!”, people go “our system is terrible, let’s do more of it!” This is the fundamental flaw in the thinking about this. It’s that there’s only the monopolistic way to go. We already know it produces the worst possible incentives in every case. Yet people are completely unwilling to consider anything else, because…reasons.

      1. Oh, you pretend to want no laws, but when the Mexicans move in next to you and start up with their loud siestas in the middle of the day, you’re probably the first to call the Homeowners Association. You’re the worst.

        1. I offered the neighborhood order!

        2. loud siestas – ha

        3. It’s “fiesta” you fucking moron. “Siesta” means afternoon nap.

          1. A fiesta? In the middle of the day? Now who’s the moron.

            1. Game, Set, and Match……Fist!

            2. Yes, a fiesta in the middle of the day. Fiesta means “festival” (or “party”). While I’m sure the only festivals you know of are held after the sun goes down, many festivals are held during the day.

              1. Raymond and fish are the only ones allowed to read my comments now. I forbid anyone else. I forbid them.

                1. Not very freedom of you.

    3. “I like candidate O’Malley,” my friend told me, alluding to his decision to run to Hillary Clinton’s left. “But Mayor O’Malley…” She rolled her eyes…

      Jesus Christ. Do people not realize people rarely change. If enough of them vote for Candidate O’Malley he’ll have a whole country to fuck up, not just Baltimore.

      No no. You see, President O’Malley will have the power needed to not fuck up the country like the fucked up Maryland. That is, of course, unless the Rethuglikkkan Ubstrucshunists refuse to compromise do everything he wants.

      1. But it seems like she’s not even crawling into it that deep. It’s like she’s divorced the candidate from the elected official completely.

        1. Just a theory, but maybe she likes him as a force that will influence other candidates to go further left, recognizing he has no realistic chance to actually win.

          On second thought I’m probably giving her way too much credit.

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  2. “Molly Amster, the Baltimore director of Jews United for Justice, announced before the parade began that “we’re not done just because we got an indictment….People need equality of opportunity, equality of education, equality of housing.””

    I’m glad Ms. Amster is refuting anti-Jewish stereotypes…such as the stereotype that Jews are smart.

    1. Look, here’s a situation where small shopkeepers are caught in a vise between an oppressive government and mobs of people displacing their aggression onto…small shopkeepers. These shopkeepers deserve some support.

      Not that Jewish activists would know anything about *that.*

    2. Equality of opportunity happened with the Civil Rights Act. Most of these people mean equality of outcome.

    3. How much of her progressive laundry list has already been implemented in Baltimore or any other “Blue City”?

      1. Clearly not enough….

  3. Every major fucked up urban city needs a massive natural disaster to fuck up the order of things like Hurricane Katrina. But with a lot fewer deaths.

    1. Baltimore had that- a major blizzard that shut the city down. And guess what happened? Yup, looting, and in the very same neighborhoods as the recent unpleasantness.

      1. That blizzard was racist!1!1

        1. Like you wouldn’t run like hell if snow was coming down black.

      2. The blizzard of 2010? The one with nearly 5 feet of snow? All the coverage at the time was about how peaceful the city became, and how it was the first week in years when the city didn’t register a single homicide. It’s strange how they didn’t report all the looting and rioting.

  4. ..me and my DIY press badge departed about 15 minutes before the crackdown hour.

    COWARDICE, THY NAME IS JESSE.

  5. People need […] equality of education, equality of housing.

    I’ll just be charitable and assume Floggin’ Molly doesn’t want to double down on free shit policies that have failed spectacularly in Baltimore and elsewhere…

  6. “People need equality of opportunity, equality of education, equality of housing.”

    “But, first — and most important — equality of *equality*!”

    *** crowd cheers wildly ***

  7. Well, this is interesting. Remember the WaPo story about the other guy in the police van saying he thought Gray was trying to injure himself, and then we hear that he has “changed his story”? Except they aren’t the same guy.

    Our research indicates the office of Baltimore State Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, used or allowed one of her deputy State Attorneys, Janice Bledsoe (who was in charge of the investigation as assigned by Marilyn Mosby), to willfully and intentionally place a false story using Bledsoe’s lover, WBAL-TV reporter Jayne Miller, and thereby create a fictitious story to imply Donta Allen as the passenger outlined in the Washington Post story.

    Again, I’m not making any claims that I know what happened, but this is another interesting twist.

    1. Holy Cow.

      I would also like to now why Cesar Goodman Jr. can be charged with two counts of murder (involuntary and depraved) if all he did was just drive the car. If he drove the car like a madman to kill Gray, then the second passenger would have felt it. Unless Gray was already dead by the time he got inside the car.

      1. They pressed every conceivable charge they could, just to pander to the mob. This will be Zimmerman all over again.

  8. I guess this urban uprising has been to your satisfaction eh, Jesse?

  9. Has anyone discussed that half of the cops arrested were…black?

    Does the narrative adjust itself?

    Also. I don’t like how it all looks. It gives the impression that if people burn enough things to the ground cops will get arrested.

    1. Those black cops were steeped in white privilege. Metamorphosis, don’tcha know?

      1. More like osmosis

    2. Does the narrative adjust itself?

      No. Joan Walsh of Salon.com (that bastion of journalistic excellence) is now claiming that the black cops “absorb” the racist views of their white colleagues.

      In other words, it’s always whitey’s fault, no exceptions.

      1. Black cops are like black Republicans. They’re pawns for the white men and will be used to refute accusations that the GOP or the police don’t care about diversity.

      2. Black cops are like black Republicans. They’re pawns for the white men and will be used to refute accusations that the GOP or the police don’t care about diversity.

        1. “White Hispanic”, “White Black” whatever works with the narrative.

      3. If Baltimore is made up heavily of blacks and white democrats (and democrats can’t be racist) and there are no republicans there, who is doing all the racism? Who is oppressing all the black people? The police department? But it’s 40% black and has a black police chief. Are black policemen oppressing black citizens?

        1. “Are black policemen oppressing black citizens?”

          Yes. It’s a police power problem. Racism is a minor component at most.

          1. So explain why the rioters targeted businesses owned by non-blacks.

            I agree the problem is the police. But I think that the politicians would prefer to have most people assume its about racism.

        2. livelikearefugee|5.2.15 @ 6:28PM|#
          “If Baltimore is made up heavily of blacks and white democrats (and democrats can’t be racist) and there are no republicans there, who is doing all the racism?”

          They send a bus to some red state and offer a whole lot of money for Rethugs to show up in Ballmur.
          It has to be a whole lot of money, since no one would get on the bus otherwise.

    3. The narrative — if there should be one — is that the police culture is the problem. Who gives a fuck what skin color the cop happens to be.

      1. Yes…to us. But to them…

      2. The problem is that the popo are one of the points of implementation of nanny government. Admitting that the police department is structurally flawed casts doubt on the concept of government as a force for positive change. Which can not be tolerated.

      3. You’re asking them to admit that the government (one that is almost entirely Democrat) is capable of doing something wrong. They can’t do that, because that would mean giving up on their belief that government employees are issued wings, harps, and haloes upon hiring.

        1. The only way – as far as I can tell – there’s a chance things change is if the people start voting the bums out. And that means giving the GOP a shot…for a long time.

          If they choose to stick with the same failed group of Democrats then they deserve what they get.

          At least, this is how democracy is ‘supposed’ to ‘work’.

          1. They could do this in primaries, too, theoretically.

          2. They could do this in primaries, too, theoretically.

          3. They could do this in primaries, too, theoretically.

  10. “This turned out not to be a demand but an advertisement: He and some friends were giving out cake.”

    So, what happened then? Did just a few of the people want cake?

    1. No, that can’t be, because they were also ruling the night and traveling in packs.

      1. No one rules the night !

    2. I think the correct answer is “they all want cake”.

    3. There was this gay couple, see, and they went to a Christian baker and said, “Make us a gay wedding cake or we’ll sue you and everyone will hate on you and shut down your bakery.”

      And the Christian said, “Well, okay. I’ll bake you a cake that will make your special day memorable.”

      For some reason no one at the wedding wanted to eat the cake, and this guy thought, Well, we’ve got this big demonstration coming up, and we want it to be memorable, so…

  11. If you use corn in your chili it adds a nice color and the starch thickens it up without needed to use flour or cook for an excessively long time.

    1. Adding stuff to chili is kind of superfluous – just my opinion.

      Also, I find that chili thickens up quite nicely in the fridge overnight. A chili that seems watery one day might be nice and thick the next morning.

    2. Yeah, but then there is corn in your chili, rendering it inedible.

    3. You probably like deep dish pizza too, don’t you Chumby?

      1. Only if it’s “ORGANIC”, with none of the yucky modern stuff.
        Chumby’s a luddite.

    4. It’s supposed to be corn chips, and they go in Frito Pie.

  12. So exactly what happens when the silly charges the corrupt and quite stupid Mosby drummed up get tossed out of court?

    1. She holds a pres conference, blames The “White Oppressive System” which gave her the ability to to practice law with zero competence at all and looting resumes.

    2. “The courts are racist!”… We saw this after the Zimmerman trial; the narrative is sacred and will be protected at all costs.

  13. Sounds like some pretty silly stuff man. Wow.

    http://www.AnonGO.tk

  14. Sounds like some pretty silly stuff man. Wow.

    http://www.AnonGO.tk

    1. Whoa. *Anonbot’s* double-posting. The Singularity is near!

      1. Which comes first, the libertarian moment or the singularity?

      2. “Whoa. *Anonbot’s* double-posting. The Singularity is near!”

        Wouldn’t that be the Duality?

  15. Personally, I want to see protestors began showing solidarity for the Baltimore police union. Turn on a dime, demand justice for the Baltimore Six. They’re being railroaded by the activist Republican governor Larry Hogan (the nearest thing to a conservative villain, at this point, they can drum up). NO JUSTICE NO PEACE! INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE! Set free the police! Protect our communities of color!

    1. Baltimore Three*

  16. ‘Celebratory Protest’ Was it attended by generous misers? Or law abiding criminals? Is Baltimore some kind of City of Oxymorons? The next thing you know they’ll be having major league baseball games which no baseball fans are allowed to attend.

    1. Porky, is that you?

    2. Actually, it’s a city of Baltimorons if you’re from Maryland.

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