BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore police disbanded an overnight occupation of City Hall by activists opposed to moves to make the city’s interim police commissioner permanent, and at least 12 people could be seen being led away early Thursday to police vehicles.
Some of protesters who left before the arrests said they opposed city deliberations to make permanent the interim appointment of Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, adding they had been given no chance for input and had several other demands. Davis took the interim role in July after predecessor Anthony Batts was fired amid a spike in violent crime inBaltimore. The spike followed unrest and rioting in April after the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after suffering a severe injury in police custody.
At least 25 police officers converged outside the building hours before dawn as activists was still inside from a protest sit-in that erupted Wednesday over numerous demands for better policing. Several of the demonstrators could be seen by an Associated Press reporter as they were led off in plastic handcuffs and loaded into transport vehicles.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom! We have nothing to lose but our chains!” others watching the police operation shouted at the officers.
Police said in a statement posted on their social media site that a small number of protesters had decided to leave after hours of warnings to the demonstrators.
“The remaining protesters refused to leave the building. As a direct result of their failure to comply, the remaining protesters have been arrested and charged with trespassing. There are no reported injuries at this time to any protesters or officers,” the police statement added.
A City Council subcommittee voted to make Davis the permanent police commissioner. Davis still has to be approved by the full council.