Protesters sit-in at Baltimore's City Hall, angry over use of police force

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 15, 2015 1:47 AM

By Donna Owens

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Demonstrators angry about the use of police force took over parts of Baltimore's City Hall and remained there into the early house of Thursday, police said.

The group had earlier interrupted City proceedings about whether to give Baltimore's interim police commissioner Kevin Davis a permanent job as the city's top cop.

About three dozen protesters, some of whom were identified as members of Baltimore City Bloc, a grass roots activist group of high school students, remained holed up in the building after midnight.

"The protest remains non-violent," said T.J. Smith, a police spokesman. "Approximately 35 protesters are still in the balcony area of City Hall. No arrests have been made."

The protesters had earlier attended a city council subcommittee hearing that was considering a request by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to approve Davis as the city's permanent top officer.

Davis was appointed to the temporary post in July after the previous commissioner, Anthony Batts, was fired amid a skyrocketing murder rate and days of racially-fueled protests in April that followed the death of an unarmed black man in police custody.

Six officers have been charged with Freddie Gray's death and face upcoming trials.

Some of the demonstrators said they believe police have shown heightened aggression when dealing with protesters since Davis took command.

During Wednesday's appropriations committee meeting, protesters chanted loudly and attempted to shout over council members who voted to confirm Davis as the city's new commissioner.

The full city council could vote on his appointment as early as Monday.

Davis told protesters he would meet with them and hear their concerns.

(Editing by Michael Perry and Victoria Cavaliere/Jeremy Gaunt)