The Baltimore #NMOS14 vigil/march/rally (because it was really all three) was peaceful, beautiful, eye-opening. The rally at 5:30 PM started with about 20 people, then grew to about 100 people as we marched from the courthouse to police headquarters a few blocks away. After more speakers, we marched to the Inner Harbor for the 7:00 PM vigil and actually joined another rally that no one seemed to know about taking place outside city hall (it was really funny— one of the organizers was convinced that rally was a police decoy to scuttle our demonstration. I think this rally may have been college students because our march suddenly got younger and more attractive). At that point, we were about 200 strong, converging on the Inner Harbor, stopping traffic (not in a bad way— the police were actually out to help direct traffic), and chanting:
"Hands up! Don't shoot!"
"No justice! No peace!"
"What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
And a long, complicated one about lies that I've mostly forgotten, ending with "Michael Brown didn't have to die!"
After another rally and march through the Inner Harbor, we marched back to the police station. Where there was another rally (we had a lot of rallies). There were onlookers all along the way, filming us, giving us thumbs up, and honking their horns in support. It felt really empowering and positive to be marshaling this much notice for an issue we've gotten far too complacent about.
There were several mothers who spoke at the rally who had lost sons to police violence, one whose son at age 14 was shot and killed right in front of her. Many young and middle aged men talked about being stopped for no reason, harassed, arrested, or roughed up by the cops.
While Michael Brown was the ostensible reason for the vigil, the name that was probably mentioned just as often was Tyrone West. Tyrone West was a Baltimore resident who was beaten to death last year for resisting arrest. The officers in that incident were not charged:
Baltimore police were legally justified in using their fists, batons and pepper spray to subdue Tyrone West before he died while resisting arrest this summer, State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein said Thursday.
The office of the chief medical examiner found that West died from a heart issue made worse by dehydration, the July heat and his struggle with police. Though the autopsy report details the officers' use of force, it says he did not suffer any injuries that could have killed him.
The state medical examiner could not conclude whether the death resulted from an accident, homicide or other means.
"Mr. West's death was caused by a number of factors while actively resisting arrest … necessitating the use of objectively reasonable force by the officers to subdue and contain a suspect," Bernstein said.
"I don't care if it kills me, we're going to get justice," said Diane Butler, West's aunt. The family said they were especially upset with the release of the report just days before Christmas.
The autopsy report and the description by prosecutors provided the most detailed account to date of how a traffic stop deteriorated into violence over the course of 15 minutes.
Bernstein said two officers stopped West's car, and, while he initially complied with their orders, he soon began to resist. A woman in the car with West shouted at him to calm down, Bernstein said, but he ignored her pleas.
The officers — incapacitated by their own pepper spray — called for backup. Police eventually pinned West down, and he died as they held him on the ground, Bernstein said.
It was gratifying to learn that Tyrone West's case had sparked an ongoing movement for justice and change of legislation. The leaders of the Tyrone West-related activities were the leaders of today's demonstration.
I'll post more video after they finish uploading, but they are pretty terrible quality like the one above. I FORGOT MY FLIPPIN' CAMERA which takes great video and has image stabilization, so everything is taken with my iPhone held up in the air, shaking all over creation. The phone also had no memory left so my record is not very complete.