BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore police arrested a dozen protesters at the Hyatt Regency on Sunday afternoon where the state Fraternal Order of Police was holding a conference.
Some of the protesters refused to leave the hotel on Light Street, blocked access to an escalator and chained themselves to railings as part of a demonstration against discriminatory police practices.
The group, some of whom were with the activist group Baltimore BLOC, were joining hands and carrying signs that read "Abolish Racist F.O.P."
After refusing orders to leave about 1:45 p.m., officers and firefighters cut the demonstrators' chains and took them into custody. They're charged with trespassing.
The protest comes following the release of a Justice Department report that detailed decades of wrongdoing within the Baltimore Police Department, including discrimination against blacks and use of excessive force.
Among those arrested were three Baltimore women, ages 21-30, a 24-year-old Baltimore man, two Washington, D.C. men, ages 26 and 34, a 24-year-old D.C. woman, a 26-year-old Columbia man, an 18-year-old Ellicott City man, a 39-year-old Montgomery County woman, a 30-year-old Pikesville man, and a 22-year-old Chicago woman, according to police.
In a statement, the group said they are targeting the FOP because they prioritize the legal protection of their officers over public safety:
"We will take the streets throughout the conference as a continuation of #Afromation--a movement begun in our city last month to affirm Black life and uproot a racist system which denies poor and Black communities their right to freedom and justice. We are targeting the FOP because we know that the FOP is not a Union. The FOP is a "good ol' boys club" that prioritizes the legal protection for their officers over public safety and justice. They are a private institution whose primary purpose is to protect their members, not as workers, but rather as a protected class--above the law and unaccountable in their systematic brutality, misogyny, and racism. Our actions are taken in unity with the visionary platform released earlier this month by The Movement for Black Lives, and in response to the recently released Department of Justice report which found that the Baltimore Police Department routinely violates the civil rights of Baltimore residents, using excessive force particularly against those who are Black, poor, trans, differently-abled, children, victims of sexual assault, or otherwise especially vulnerable."
The protesters outlined a list of demands for state and local officials:
- Release the names of the officers who shot Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old woman who was fatally shot recently by Baltimore County Police following an armed standoff;
- Include elected citizens/residents on the Police Trial Board;
- Close all 79 FOP lodges in Maryland and reopen them as community centers and homeless shelters;
- Do away with internal investigations of police misconduct and replace them with external investigations;
- Introduce community oversight to the FOP collective bargaining process;
- Divest from, and demilitarize, the police force.
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