The largest protest yet over the recent death of Freddie Gray is expected to take place in Baltimore on Saturday, with community members and a coalition of racial justice and civil rights groups planning to take to the streets in force as they demand justice for the 25-year-old black man who was killed while in police custody earlier this month. The demonstrators will also call attention to a longer pattern of abuse by the Baltimore Police Department which fits into increasingly larger and widespread concerns over how minority communities are treated by law enforcement nationwide.
Organizers for the march said residents will rally at 3 PM on Saturday near the Western District police station and also near where Gray was arrested before a march to City Hall for a rally scheduled for 5 PM.
“This tide, this wave will roll downtown to City Hall,” said Malik Z. Shabazz, one of the protest organizers and an attorney with the Washington D.C.-based Black Lawyers for Justice. “There will be some thousands in the streets demanding justice. We are in solidarity with them.”
He added, “It cannot be business as usual with that man’s spine broken, with his back broken, with no justice on the scene.”
Gray died in a local Baltimore hospital on April 19 from a severe neck injury just over a week after he was “violently” arrested by officers and forcibly placed, handcuffed and shackled, into a police van. The injuries that Gray received were so dramatic that “80 percent of his spinal cord was severed.” Though Baltimore police have acknowledged that protocols were not followed and has temporarily suspended six officers involved with the arrest, Gray’s family and the community at large say that too little has been done and that Gray, who did nothing other than flee a scene after “making eye contact” with an officer, should never have been arrested in the first place.
“Running while black is not a crime,” said Billy Murphy, an attorney for the Gray family, this week. “Felony running does not exist… And the lesson here was, he should have run — and he didn’t run fast enough.”
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT