The Latest: Mayor says she's not clear on protesters' goals

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 15, 2015 5:06 PM
The Latest: Mayor says she's not clear on protesters' goals

BALTIMORE (AP) — The latest on protests by the Baltimore Uprising coalition, which occupied City Council chambers at Baltimore City Hall to protest a council committee's vote in favor of making the interim police commissioner permanent:

___

2:45 p.m.

Democratic Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she is confused about the purpose of a City Hall demonstration by student and community activists.

More than 30 people held a sit-in for eight hours and, ultimately, 16 were arrested early Thursday. Protesters said they wanted Rawlings-Blake and interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to meet with them to discuss demands for demonstrators' First Amendment rights, the firing of the city's housing commissioner and the investment of millions of dollars in city schools.

After attending an event Thursday afternoon at a community center, Rawlings-Blake said she wasn't "clear on their goals."

She says the protesters requested a meeting with Davis, he agreed to meet with them Friday and he gave them his cellphone number to arrange the meeting. Rawlings-Blake says that, "instead of using that as an opportunity for communication, they tweeted his phone number to the world."

___

11:30 a.m.

Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis says in a perfect world, the people arrested during a sit-in at City Hall "probably wouldn't have stayed that long."

Davis spoke Thursday on "The Norris and Davis Show" on WJZ-FM. Steve Davis and Ed Norris, a former Baltimore police commissioner, host the broadcast.

Police arrested 16 people on trespassing charges early Thursday after an eight-hour demonstration. Demonstrators refused to leave following a hearing by a City Council committee on Davis' nomination to the top police job.

Davis says the arrests were "the last thing we wanted to do." He says that, "in a perfect world, they probably wouldn't have stayed that long."

___

9:30 a.m.

Baltimore police say 16 people, including three juveniles, have been charged with trespassing after a protest at City Hall.

On Thursday morning, police released the names of the protesters, who range in age from 16 to 38. Most are from Baltimore, but the group includes a 26-year-old from nearby Columbia and a 38-year-old from Burtonsville, in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Supporters gathered at City Hall Thursday morning to demand the protesters' release, hours after the group refused to leave City Hall when a City Council subcommittee voted to keep on the interim police commissioner.

Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West died after a confrontation with Baltimore police following a traffic stop in 2013, is among the protesters, holding a sign that reads: "Jail for Killer Cops." Jones says protesters are trying to hold the police accountable. She says their voices are not being heard "and that's disgusting."

___

8 a.m.

Just hours after protesters were led away from City Hall in plastic handcuffs, supporters are gathering outside City Hall to demand their release.

A handful of people are outside the building Thursday morning.

Protesters who say they want a voice in the selection of a police commissioner gathered inside City Hall on Wednesday night as a Council subcommittee voted to keep interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on permanently. Afterward, protesters refused to leave City Hall until city officials agreed to meet a list of demands.

Several hours later, police say some protesters left the building and the remaining protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing.

Davis took on the interim role in July after predecessor Anthony Batts was fired amid a spike in violent crime in Baltimore. The spike followed unrest and rioting in April after Freddie Gray's death.

The full council must approve the appointment and a vote is scheduled on Monday.

___

4:30 a.m.

Police officers grouped before dawn outside Baltimore City Hall and could be seen by an Associated Press reporter leading at least 12 people from the government building to police transport vans and other vehicles. Several of those being escorted away could be seen in plastic handcuffs, their hands behind their backs.

Approximately 25 officers initially formed a line in front of City Hall and more police were seen with their vehicles out back as protesters were led out. More than a dozen others outside City Hall looked on at the police activity, chanting, "It is our duty to fight for our freedom, we have nothing to lose but our chains!"

Police officials could not be reached immediately for comment on their activities at City Hall and whether they had confirmed anyone was formally taken into custody.

Kwame Rose, an organizer of protesters who have been occupying the building for hours, said he and others left after police had warned they shouldn't be in the building after hours.

Rose says he's upset the city's interim police commissioner, Kevin Davis, hadn't met with the activists to listen to their demands. The activists are opposing moves to permanently appoint Davis to the post.

___

3:30 a.m.

One of the organizers of protesters occupying Baltimore City Hall, Kwame Rose, left the building about 3:30 a.m. soon after several others departed. He was in tears, saying several police officers had arrived and that activists still remaining inside were now facing a threat of possible arrest.

He says he's upset the city's interim police commissioner, Kevin Davis, hadn't met with the activists to listen to their demands. "All he had to come upstairs for 10 minutes and meet with us," Rose told reporters of a meeting Wednesday at the City Council chambers that led to the protest.

"The politicians, they failed us today," Rose said of meetings Wednesday to consider a move to make Davis permanent in his police leadership post. The activists had opposed that and made other demands.

According to Rose, police gave the small group of activists still inside the building what he said was a "final warning."

Lawrence Grand Pre, one of the protesters who left after 3 a.m., says about 10 mostly student activists still remained inside and 30 to 40 police officers were in a hallway near the remaining demonstrators. Protesters say police read a statement that City Hall was closed.

___

2:25 a.m.

Activists are continuing to occupy City Council chambers overnight, opposed to the permanent appointment of Kevin Davis, currently the interim police commissioner.

One of the protesters, Ralikh Hayes, told The Associated Press by cellphone early Thursday that some 30 demonstrators remained inside and were sleeping in shifts, hours before dawn. The protesters also sent social media messages asking their supporters to show up at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Hayes says police are guarding a door to an upper balcony of the main City Council chamber where the protesters are located. He says activists have no food but do have access to water fountains and bathrooms under police escort.

A City Council subcommittee voted Thursday to make Davis the permanent police commissioner. Davis still has to be approved by the full council.

Davis was made interim commissioner in July after predecessor Anthony Batts was fired amid a spike in violent crime in Baltimore. The spike followed unrest and rioting in April prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after suffering a severe injury in police custody.

___

12:30 a.m.

Five protesters have left Baltimore City Hall several hours after occupying City Council chambers with about 30 others to protest a vote in favor of making the interim police commissioner permanent.

An Associated Press reporter stationed outside saw the five leave shortly after midnight Wednesday.

One of them was 36-year-old Lawrence Brown.

Brown confirmed that the protesters have a list of demands. He says they want to challenge what he called the "coronation process" for interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis "and ask some critical questions about how police have handled protests since he's been in charge."

Brown says morale among the protesters is high.

The occupation began Wednesday evening after a City Council subcommittee voted to make Davis the permanent commissioner. Davis still has to be approved by the full council.

Davis was made interim commissioner in July after his predecessor, Anthony Batts, was fired amid the most severe violent crime spike the city had seen in 43 years. The spike followed unrest and rioting in April prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after suffering a critical injury in police custody.