As Baltimore Demands Justice, Solidarity Movements Grow
'Black, brown and white, solutions lie not in reaction but in unified action.'
As an uneasy calm settled over Baltimore on Tuesday, hours after the National Guard descended on activists calling for justice over the death of Freddie Gray and countless other unarmed black men and women killed by police, demonstrations against police violence continued throughout the city.
And around the country, solidarity movements also began to build, with protests and marches taking place or being planned in Chicago, St. Louis, and New York City, among other cities. Activists on social media are organizing under the banner #BaltimoreUprising.
"The uprising in Baltimore tonight has delivered an unmistakable and powerful message that the time is over when people will just take the unending and outrageous murder and brutality carried out by police," said Carl Dix, co-founder of the St. Louis-based Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN), in a statement Monday. "From North Charleston, South Carolina to Ferguson, Missouri from Pasco, Washington to New York City and beyond—THIS MUST STOP!"
St. Louis activists are expected to gather at the Joshua House Ministries Church on Wednesday at 7pm.
SMIN organizer Lou Downey told Common Dreams, "We’ll be back in the streets tonight demanding justice for Freddie Gray at the very spot where the Ferguson Uprising began 9 months ago and ripped open a hole in a vast cover up of police murder. Authorities in Baltimore use the same playbook—demonizing those bravely rising up while the system continues to get away with murder. That's the real state of emergency! Now must become another turning point moment where many, many more people find their consciences and come out again, or come out for the first time, to stand up against the epidemic of police murder."
Echoing Dix's call, Bishop Harry Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and James Robison, co-founders of the multiracial Reconciled Church in Baltimore, said in a statement: "Now from Ferguson, North Charleston, Baltimore and the lengthening roll call of wounded cities, we cry for justice—the lasting justice of changed minds and hearts."
"Black, brown and white, solutions lie not in reaction but in unified action," they added.
In Chicago, human rights groups We Charge Genocide, Black Lives Matter: Chicago, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), and others are organizing an "emergency action" at the Chicago Police Department headquarters on Tuesday night.
"Too many names have been turned into hashtags. What is happening in Baltimore is not an isolated event," wrote BYP 100 organizers in a press release. "This did not start today, or yesterday or last month or with Ferguson or with Rodney King...The police militarization and murder, the racist and systemic violence, the trauma and denied justice are happening in your backyards."
In New York, protesters are converging in Manhattan's Union Square on Wednesday night at 6pm to show their solidarity with Baltimore. "[T]heir resistance is for justice and their justice is our justice," organizers wrote in a statement.
"People of Baltimore have taken to the streets day after day for justice for Freddie Gray and for Black lives across the country but now that the National Guard has been called in and a curfew set, we must stand in solidarity with the people of Baltimore," they added. "The media will continue to paint the people of Baltimore as rioters and looters but people forget that the City and Police of Baltimore loot and destroy Black and Brown communities of Baltimore every day of the year."
Baltimore-based grassroots organization and think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle outlined some of the protesters' demands:
- The State’s Attorney needs to do a through investigation and indict the officers responsible for the death of Freddie Gray.
- All local officials must make a public commitments to substantively support efforts to move relevant reforms to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights during the 2016 MD Legislative session. (see attached for specified amendments).
- A series of public mediated conversations with those who have been advocating police reform and the Fraternal Order of Police and other relevant parties.
Throughout the city, organizers also called for observers to eschew mainstream media coverage of the protests that spins expressions of outrage into stories of "looting" and "violence" in favor of grassroots efforts for positive change taking place on the streets.