UPDATE: 5:43 a.m. EDT -- Police officials have arrested at least 12 protesters from the Baltimore City Hall, Baltimore Sun reported Thursday. Activists are opposing the permanent appointment of Kevin Davis, Baltimore's interim police commissioner, and have released a set of demands.
UPDATE: 4:29 a.m. EDT -- The Baltimore Police Department said, in a statement on Facebook Thursday, that it has arrested some protesters at the Baltimore City Hall and has charged them with trespassing. The department said it indulged in “hours of communication and warnings” after which a small number of protesters came out of the premises.
“The remaining protesters refused to leave the building. As a direct result of their failure to comply, the remaining protesters have been arrested and charged with trespassing,” the department said, adding: “There are no reported injuries at this time to any protesters or officers."
UPDATE: 3:43 a.m. EDT -- Police officials entered the Baltimore City Hall in Maryland early Thursday and began arresting activists protesting the permanent appointment of Kevin Davis, Baltimore's interim police commissioner, teleSUR, a Latin American news network, reported.
— Hollywood Nupe, MPA (@HollywoodJuan) October 15, 2015
— Credible Threat (@BaltoSpectator) October 15, 2015
Activists protesting the permanent appointment of Kevin Davis, Baltimore's interim police commissioner, gathered outside the Baltimore City Hall in Maryland Wednesday night and refused to leave until the commissioner and the mayor agreed to their demands. Several protesters disrupted the confirmation hearing after the vote by the City Council’s executive appointments committee, demanding that the voting be halted.
About 30 protesters stayed inside the City Hall until at least 12:30 a.m. and refused to leave after the meeting ended, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Police officials were called to monitor the situation. The protesters have demanded the firing of Baltimore Housing Director Paul Graziano, for officers to stop using excessive force against peaceful protesters and to invest money in alternatives to incarceration, ABC2 News, a local news network, reported. They have also called for police officials to avoid using any military-type equipment like armored vehicles, and only employ riot gear as a last resort.
Davis was appointed as the interim commissioner after Anthony Batts was fired in July, amid protests in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody in April. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby had called to prosecute the six officers for their involvement in Gray's death. The officers are currently awaiting trial. Following Mosby's decision and amid widespread unrest in the city, a rise in homicides was recorded and residents in crime-prone areas accused police officials of abandoning their posts, the AP reported.
"It is clear that since Kevin Davis took office as interim Police Commissioner there has been a heightened aggression from Law Enforcement towards protesters," the Baltimore Uprising coalition, which arranged the latest protests, told Baltimore Sun. "Now the Mayor has nominated Kevin Davis to carry the full responsibilities as Commissioner. This is most troubling to community organizations and members as we exercise our First Amendment right to hold elected and appointed officials accountable for their actions." The coalition comprises groups like Youth as Resources, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, The West Coalition, City Bloc, Baltimore Algebra Project, Baltimore Bloc and Black EXCELLence.
Makayla Gilliam-Price, 17, a Baltimore City College High School senior and a founding member of City Bloc, said police officials were not allowing the demonstrators to use restrooms or order food at the location. “It’s like they’re forcing us to choose our political voice over our survival," Gilliam-Price said, according to ABC2 News.
— kayla Joy (@kaylajingram) October 15, 2015
Davis called the protests an "act of civil disobedience," which is "just part of this moment."
"It's all part of the healing process," Davis said, after the vote, according to the AP, adding: "The fact that this occurred isn't upsetting. It's just part of where the city is right now. I understand where they are. I understand their frustration. ... I promised the citizens of Baltimore and the protesters that I'll be the type of police commissioner that they deserve. This is just part of where the city is right now, and if we're going to get to the other side of this, we have to go through these moments."
According to Davis’ contract, which runs until 2020, he would be paid $200,000 a year and if he is fired without any cause, a $150,000 buyout would be triggered, CBS Baltimore reported. The contract, which is not yet official, would require a vote from the Board of Estimates that is controlled by the mayor.
Mosby’s husband, Councilman Nick Mosby, had voted against Davis’ appointment as permanent commissioner. “While I respect the work that Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis has done leading the Baltimore City Police Department out of an extremely challenging summer, I will not support his confirmation for Baltimore City Police Commissioner,” Nick said in a statement, according to CBS Baltimore. “Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s decision not to seek re-election means that the City will have new leadership beginning in January, 2017. The new mayor and the citizens of Baltimore should not be saddled with $150,000 golden parachute for another police commissioner should the new mayor decide to bring in new leadership for the department.”
Following Wednesday’s approval, the full council will vote on the appointment Monday.
— Harris from the Post (@rousseau_ist) October 15, 2015
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) October 15, 2015
— robbrulinski (@robbrulinski) October 15, 2015