Thursday 29 September 2016

Mourners to remember Baltimore man who died in police custody

Shannon Stapleton

Published 26/04/2015 | 18:04

A man shields himself after being struck during a march to Baltimore's City Hall for Freddie Gray, who died in police custody (AP)
A man shields himself after being struck during a march to Baltimore's City Hall for Freddie Gray, who died in police custody (AP)
Demonstrators halt the traffic in downtown after a protest in front of City Hall against the death in police custody of Freddie Gray in Baltimore April 23, 2015. Gray, 27, was arrested on April 12 and died on Sunday. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz
Baltimore police are mounted on horses as they guard the department's Western District police station during a march for Freddie Gray, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mourners will gather at a North Baltimore funeral home later this evening to remember a 25-year-old black man who died a week ago while in police custody, an unexplained death that brought thousands to the city's downtown on Saturday to protest against police violence.

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The wake for Freddie Gray on Sunday afternoon comes the day after the largest demonstration yet since he died on April 19 and two weeks after a foot chase with patrol officers, his eventual arrest and a ride in a police transport van.

Anthony Batts, the city's police commissioner, said on Friday that officers who detained Gray failed to give him timely medical attention for a spinal injury he suffered in custody.

Read more here: Baltimore custody death protest turns violent  

The head of the Baltimore police union said this assertion was premature and apparently "politically driven."

Gray joined a long list of black men who have died under questionable circumstances during police encounters in recent months. The highly publicised incidents have triggered an outcry over the use of force by law enforcement against African-Americans.

Protestors gather outside of Baltimore's City Hall before a march for Freddie Gray, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Protestors gather outside of Baltimore's City Hall before a march for Freddie Gray, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Rev. Westley West leads a march for Freddie Gray to the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Angela Hazel reacts during a moment of silence before a protest march for Freddie Gray, Thursday, April 23, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A demonstrator delivers a speech in front of City Hall during a protest against the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, in Baltimore April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz
Demonstrators gather in front of City Hall to protest against the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, in Baltimore April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Last year, weeks of protests followed the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City.

About 2,000 people marched on Saturday afternoon through downtown Baltimore, pausing at Camden Yards, the home of the Orioles baseball team, where some demonstrators shouted chants at officers standing guard.

As darkness fell, about 100 protesters splintered from the group and threw bottles, metal barricades and other objects at police officers and their cruisers, authorities said.

Read more here: Custody death protest turns violent  

The windows of several businesses were smashed, Police Commissioner Batts said.

Police arrested 12 people who ignored orders to disperse, Batts said. At least one officer was hurt in the skirmishes.

Fredericka Gray, Freddie's twin sister, joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at a news conference where she urged people to keep calm.

"Freddie's father and mother do not want violence, violence does not get justice," she said.

Six Baltimore police officers have been suspended in the Gray case, and an internal police investigation is under way.

Read more here: Protesters take to the streets of Baltimore after death of black man Freddie Gray in custody  

Mayor Rawlings-Blake, who has called for answers in Gray's death, said agitators at the Saturday demonstration disrupted the otherwise peaceful political action.

"I am profoundly disappointed to see the violence in our city this evening," she said.

Much of the violence occurred near Camden Yards ballpark, where the Baltimore Orioles played the Boston Red Sox as scheduled. Towards the end of the game, fans were told to stay in place because of safety concerns.

Protesters are calling for the prosecution of the six officers involved in Gray's arrest and a reform of policing tactics. Police have yet to explain when and how Gray was injured.

Reuters

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