Activists involved in Baltimore #CityHallShutdown say this is a victory for the right to dissent
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: Protesters are calling it yet another victory for the right to dissent in Baltimore. On Thursday, October 29, prosecutors dropped charges for 11 arrested during the City Hall shutdown action of October 15. HANIFAT BELLO, BALTIMORE BLOC: The meaning of protesting means that we want to disturb. So by any means necessary we’ll protect the people, the community of Baltimore. NOOR: As protesters emerged from the courthouse we spoke to them about their demands, including Police Commissioner Kevin Davis adopt rules of engagement when responding to protests. TRE MURPHY, ARRESTED OCT. 15 DURING #CITYHALLSHUTDOWN: It wasn’t like the demands that folks were asking to be met was anything that was outrageous. NOOR: And what’s being called a crackdown on peaceful protests. MURPHY: Peaceful protesters have been directly targeted. Kwame Rose is one example. Pastor Westley West is another. NOOR: Protesters were also demanding the fire of Paul Graziano, who leads a housing authority embroiled in sex for repairs scandals at the city’s public housing complexes, as well as the reallocation of $20 million of city funds for educational programs. Of the 16 total arrested and charged with trespassing for occupying City Hall, four have already had their charges dropped. BELLO: We’re not going to stop until we get all our demands met. And the voice of the people really matters. So the fact that we’re all out, we all got our charges dropped, that’s the main focus. NOOR: And a final protester, Adam Jackson of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, is out of town and rescheduling his court date. We follow the city’s efforts to prosecute protesters, and thus far such efforts have failed. MURPHY: Everyday citizens, outstanding citizens, people who you would consider model citizens, recognize that there’s an issue. There’s an issue. And the only way that people can express and voice and effectively challenge those issues is through the act of protesting, through the act of exercising their First Amendment right. NOOR: From Baltimore, this is Jaisal Noor.
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After the publication of this story, Baltimore State’s Attorney’s spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said in a statement: “All charges for the protesters at City Hall were abated by arrest. The State’s Attorney’s Office supports the actions of the Baltimore Police Department to remove these young people to control the situation but under these circumstances believes the arrest in and of itself was sufficient.”