Baltimore police arrested dozens of people on Saturday during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest against police brutality. The arrests made by Baltimore police took place just north of the city’s downtown, and occurred after a large number of protesters blocked I-83. As the Baltimore Sun reports, when the Baltimore police were forced to arrest the unruly protesters, the scene quickly turned chaotic.
In all, 65 activists were arrested.
According to multiple reports, the dozens of arrests made by Baltimore police resulted in virtual anarchy around Penn Station, where thousands of people had gathered to participate in Baltimore’s annual Artscape festival.
The protest, which resulted in over 60 arrests of minors and adults alike at the hands of Baltimore police, had been referred to as “Afromation” on social media platforms. Crowds initially gathered at Guilford Avenue and Chase Street, where the march began. Once the activists came together, they collectively marched through Charles Street, where the Baltimore Artscape festival was taking place. Then the group of protesters, marching against police brutality, headed to St. Paul Street and past Penn Station before finally congregating just past the Interstate 83 onramp.
At the time, the ramp was closed for Artscape.
Baltimore police spokesman Lt. Jarron Jackson described the scene to the local media.
“Once on the interstate, they locked arms and blocked traffic along the northbound lanes for a short period of time before officers arrived and began making arrests.”
Baltimore police report that of the 65 people placed under arrest on Saturday as a result of the Black Lives Matter march, 55 were adults and 10 were under the age of 18. All of those arrested for their roles in the peaceful protest are expected to face charges of failure to obey and illegally walking on a highway.
Processing of the arrested protesters continued until the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Baltimore police.
According to those who participated in the Baltimore march, protesters only blocked the interstate for a couple of minutes. Activist and protest organizer David Blair told the media that protesters blocking I-83 immediately moved when Baltimore police officers at the scene asked them to do so, relocating to the shoulder of the interstate to allow an ambulance to pass.
“We complied with the officers. I think there are so many people that deserve to get arrested — not peaceful protesters.”
According to Blair, 21, Baltimore police asked the gathered activists to move so that an ambulance could get through, but after the group moved, two police vehicles (vans) showed up instead. Blair reported that the police vans were loaded with additional officers, who arrested protesters even though they had left the area as requested by Baltimore police officers on scene.
There were no reports of resisting arrest or use of excessive force by the Baltimore police during the mass arrest of Black Lives Matter protesters. However, it has been reported that several activists were “forced to their knees” as part of the arrest process.
Baltimore police have declined to comment about the precise methods utilized to arrest the dozens of Black Lives Matter activists processed and released as a result of the peaceful Saturday evening protest.
David Blair is a student at the University of Baltimore and was a co-organizer of Saturday’s march. He is also a member of New Lens Productions, which is described as a “social justice organization” comprised of filmmakers. That group’s mission statement and the purpose of Saturday’s Baltimore protest was to demonstrate and assert that “black lives do have validation in this country.”
What do you think about Saturday’s peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Baltimore? Did activists, organizers and participants handle themselves properly? Were Baltimore police correct in arresting dozens of non-violent protesters?
[Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images]