Fueled by the announcement on Friday that six police officers would be charged for their role in the tragic death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, activists are holding a national day of protest on Saturday to amplify the growing call for racial justice and end to police brutality against people of color.
"#BlackSpring has begun," event flyers announced. Last week, in the wake of Gray's death and the local protests and police crackdown that followed, solidarity demonstrations began springing up in cities across the country, with many more expected for the weekend.
On Saturday, demonstrations are planned for over 25 cities, including: Boulder, Colorado; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Cleveland, Toledo, and Columbus, Ohio; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Wilmington and Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Albany and New York City, New York; Knoxville, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri; Orlando and Tampa, Florida; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; Providence, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Richmond, Virginia; Los Angeles, California; Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Toronto, Ontario in Canada.
And in Baltimore, protesters will march from the Gilmore Homes housing projects where Gray was arrested and end with a massive rally at City Hall.
"This is not a Baltimore issue. This is an American issue," Atlanta resident James Camper, who drove ten hours to participate in the Baltimore rally, told Washington Post reporter Justin Jouvenal.
While some reports say that the day of action is being dubbed a "victory rally" after news that local police officers are being charged for Gray's death, others say that the one instance of accountability does not erase the countless examples of discrimination and harm with impunity against Black communities.
"The war on Black people in Baltimore is the same war on Black people across America," declares grassroots organizers Ferguson Action. "Decades of poverty, unemployment, under-funded schools and police terrorism have reached a boiling point in Baltimore and cities around the country."
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Organizers say that after the meager reforms—including the promise of more police body cameras—that came following the protests last fall, communities are calling for real, structural change. Their demands, they say, "speak to a world where all Black Lives Matter."
Images and updates from Saturday's demonstrations are being shared on Twitter.
In honor of Freddie Gray and the uprising in Baltimore, artists with the Sparrow Project art collective released this video Saturday pairing Nina Simone's classic anthem "Baltimore" with images from the city in 1968 and in 2015.