Protestors disrupt a Baltimore City Council meeting on May 4, 2015, holding a banner and chanting. (Screenshot from CharmTV YouTube video)
On May 4th about a dozen protesters stood up during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting and unfurled banners demanding people arrested during the protests last week be freed from jail. About 20 minutes into the meeting the group began chanting, “Drop the charges, drop the bail, protesters shouldn’t go to jail,” while holding a white banner that read, “Free All Protesters Drop The Charges” On the second floor viewing gallery the group hung a banner reading, “Locked In, Locked Down, Locked Out.” The entire episode can be viewed on the City Council’s YouTube channel CharmTV.
As the protesters continued to chant a visibly annoyed City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who was leading the meeting, banged his gavel several times and said, “I’m going to ask you to respect the council and move out of the chambers, please.” As the chants continued he repeated, “This is not the way to do it.”
Hundreds of people were arrested during the riots and protests following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray on April 19th while in police custody. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan extended the amount of time a person could be held in custody before seeing a judge. Bails have been set as high as $500,000, an astonishing amount given that the police officers charged in Gray’s death had bails ranging from $250,000 to $350,000.
After a recess the protesters were removed by police but not arrested. They refused to give their names to reporters who were at the meeting. Young then took a few moments to address the audience. “I apologize to those who came here for a peaceful council meeting. I understand the frustration of the people but this is not the way to do it. I think that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has done her job and justice has to take its course. For people to come in here and be disruptive to what we’re trying to do here–and that’s to take care of the business of the city of Baltimore—is really troubling to me. You can protest. But do it in the right way. This was not really the right forum to do it in. We’re not the justice system. We’re the legislative body of the City Council of Baltimore,” he said.