Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thursday evening, pushing their way through police lines and blocking access to a major highway.
Philly joined a growing list of cities on edge after 100 cops were injured, businesses looted and burned, cars destroyed and bystanders were pummeled in Baltimore Tuesday night, resulting in Maryland calling out the National Guard to restore a degree of calm.
Earlier in the day, crowds gathered for a “Philly is Baltimore” rally outside city hall and moved toward Rittenhouse Square. Protesters later surrounded a police car and stopped a bus, according to Philly.com.
A video of the protest showed crowds standing in the road near a major highway, shouting, “Shut it down!”
One live tweet from the scene, said, “#PhillyisBaltimore protesters are telling black officers they are traitors.”
The march was organized to show solidarity with Freddie Gray, his family and Baltimore residents. Family members of Gray allege he was injured at the hands of police, and those injuries led to his death at a hospital several days later.
A woman named Angela told CNN, “This is about police ignoring the cry for treating everyone equally. We want answers, and we want them now.”
Another man said, “Police can get away with anything when it comes to a black person.”
Before the crowds broke through police lines, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan told CNN, “Protesters are citizens, not suspects. Our job as police it to keep them safe while they exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Sullivan said he’s not worried about violence in the city, according to the report.
Film footage of the scene showed crowds dancing in the streets and chanting, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! These racist cops have got to go!”
In Cincinnati, Ohio, at least 300 people gathered outside the Hamilton County Courthouse and began marching to police headquarters. Protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace. Let’s take back our streets!” Police threatened arrests of protesters who didn’t stay on the sidewalks.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, protesters attempted to enter an I-71 ramp, but police said they had the situation under control.
Downtown Baltimore was unusually quiet Thursday, with some major tourist attractions closed.
Thursday night was a cakewalk compared to the mayhem in cities the night before all sparked by the earlier mayhem in Baltimore where a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew was instituted the day after the uprising.
The Baltimore riots were triggered by the death of a young black man, Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody. Police gave their findings on the death of Gray to the state prosecutor Thursday. The results of the police investigation were sent to State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who will decide whether to bring charges against any of the six officers who were involved in arresting and transporting Gray April 12. Gray died a week later of a severed spine, touching off days of protests, violence and mass arrests.
Some 12 cops were seriously injured – enough to be placed on medical leave and 15 on light duty. In addition, 106 people who had been arrested during the disturbances have been released because police have been unable to charge them during the 48-hour period after their arrest.
According to the Washington Post, the prisoner sharing the police van told investigators he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
However, a man identifying himself as that prisoner has come forward to say the police report is inaccurate.
“All I did was go straight to the station, but I heard a little banging like he was banging his head,” the man, Donta Allen, told WJZ-TV, which reported Allen had been arrested on suspicion of stealing cigarettes.
In Baltimore, gun violence has reportedly surged, with at least five people shot in three separate incidents, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“Since the National Guard and outside law enforcement agencies were deployed to certain areas of the city in response to Monday’s unrest, the city has seen six homicides,” stated the Sun report. “Protests have been peaceful, but unrelated gun violence has spiked.”
Protests in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Oakland, California, are scheduled for Friday, which is also May Day.
On Wednesday, protests took place in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Washington, and Ferguson, Missouri, the site of similar mayhem after the police shooting of Michael Brown. In that case, Attorney General Eric Holder cleared the police officer of any wrongdoing.
As WND reported, about 120 were arrested in New York City, as thousands took to Times Square. Police eventually set up a barricade to contain the protesters; more than 1,000 flowed into the streets, essentially shutting down the popular New York City spot to traffic and travelers.
Other sites in the city also came to a standstill because of protesters, many of whom shouted the now-familiar “hands up, don’t shoot” slogan as they marched.
“A group of protesters spilled into the street, disrupting traffic” and attempting to block Holland Tunnel and other major roadways, WNYC reported. “Dozens of police officers moved in with plastic handcuffs and began making arrests while officers with batons pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalk.”
NPR reported police were forced to use pepper spray to disperse crowds by the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. The Denver Post reported 11 adults were arrested during confrontations with police.