Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 28, 2015

Nontraditional Riot Control in Baltimore

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on April 28, 2015

The Baltimore Police Commissioner had this to say about the following video:

“And if you saw in one scene, you had one a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed. I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight,” Batts said at a press conference this morning.

 

Also heartening to see are the slightly larger efforts of groups such as 300 Men March, Nation of Islam, and even unorganized members of the community that are working to calm the situation down, often physically placing themselves between the police and potential rioters in an effort to prevent violence.

 

 

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4 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 29, 2015 @ 9:41 am

Thanks Arnold for the links!

Comment by Vicki Campbell

April 29, 2015 @ 5:25 pm

Apparently the Baltimore riots on Monday didn’t actually unfold the way the mainstream media reported it. Below is the exact text of an article from Mother Jones, one of the nation’s oldest and most award-winning investigative journalism magazines (and now websites). The story told below is all over the internet, including all the tweets and photos that were generated at the time. Below is a link to the article on Mother Jones which contains a few of them. I knew CNN had really deteriorated, but I honestly didn’t know how much…

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/how-baltimore-riots-began-mondawmin-purge

——————————————–

Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn’t Start the Way You Think

Baltimore teachers and parents tell a different story from the one you’ve been reading in the media.

After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation.

The funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody this month, had ended hours earlier at a nearby church. According to the Baltimore Sun, a call to “purge”—a reference to the 2013 dystopian film in which all crime is made legal for one night—circulated on social media among school-aged Baltimoreans that morning. The rumored plan—which was not traced to any specific person or group—was to assemble at the Mondawmin Mall at 3 p.m. and proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue toward downtown Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department, which was aware of the “purge” call, prepared for the worst. Shortly before noon, the department issued a statement saying it had “received credible information that members of various gangs…have entered into a partnership to ‘take-out’ law enforcement officers.”

When school let out that afternoon, police were in the area equipped with full riot gear. According to eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, the police were stopping busses and forcing riders, including many students who were trying to get home, to disembark. Cops shut down the local subway stop. They also blockaded roads near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, which is across the street from the mall, and essentially corralled young people in the area. That is, they did not allow the after-school crowd to disperse.

Meghann Harris, a teacher at a nearby school, described on Facebook what happened:

Police were forcing busses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, [Frederick Douglass High School] students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various busses but couldn’t catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who looked like they were waiting for police to do something. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students…It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.

The kids were “standing around in groups of 3-4,” Harris said in a Facebook message to Mother Jones. “They weren’t doing anything. No rock throwing, nothing…The cops started marching toward groups of kids who were just milling about.”

A teacher at Douglass High School, who asked not to be identified, tells a similar story: “When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord.” Those who didn’t depart early, she says, were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point, she notes, wanted to get out of the area and avoid any Purge-like violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by now, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. “I rode with another teacher home,” this teacher recalls, “and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the road…The majority of my students thought what was going to happen was stupid or were frightened at the idea. Very few seemed to want to participate in ‘the purge.'”

A parent who picked up his children from a nearby elementary school, says via Twitter, “The kids stood across from the police and looked like they were asking them ‘why can’t we get on the buses’ but the police were just gazing…Majority of those kids aren’t from around that neighborhood. They NEED those buses and trains in order to get home.” He continued: “If they would’ve let them children go home, yesterday wouldn’t have even turned out like that.”

Meg Gibson, another Baltimore teacher, described a similar scene to Gawker: “The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall, turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board. They were waiting for the kids…Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown.” With police unloading busses, and with the nearby metro station shut down, there were few ways for students to clear out.

Several eyewitnesses in the area that afternoon say that police seemed to arrive at Mondawmin anticipating mobs and violence—prior to any looting. At 3:01 p.m., the Baltimore Police Department posted on its Facebook page: “There is a group of juveniles in the area of Mondawmin Mall. Expect traffic delays in the area.” But many of the kids, according to eyewitnesses, were stuck there because of police actions.

The Baltimore Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Around 3:30, the police reported that juveniles had begun to throw bottles and bricks. Fifteen minutes later, the police department noted that one of its officers had been injured. After that the violence escalated, and rioters started looting the Mondawmin Mall, and Baltimore was in for a long night of trouble and violence. But as the event is reviewed and investigated, an important question warrants attention: What might have happened had the police not prevented students from leaving the area? Did the department’s own actions increase the chances of conflict?

As Meghann Harris put it, “if I were a Douglas student that just got trapped in the middle of a minefield BY cops without any way to get home and completely in harm’s way, I’d be ready to pop off, too.”

On social media, eyewitnesses chronicled the dramatic police presence before the rioting began:

Comment by Vicki Campbell

April 29, 2015 @ 5:44 pm

And Brian Arnold, a Baltimore City high school teacher, offered his description of how it actually works for Black youth in Baltimore on Facebook:
————————————–

I want to make this as clear as possible:
Step 1: the police created a “credible threat” about some high school students gathering at Mondawmin to start trouble.

Step 2: the police showed up in force and riot gear before the students got out of school at Mondawmin, which is a major public transit hub, and SHUT DOWN THE TRANSIT, guaranteeing the kids couldn’t leave.

Step 3: the police started macing people and brandishing tasers.

Step 4: the kids understandably responded to being stranded and maced by throwing rocks.

Step 5: the media starts reporting it as “a riot” and “violent protesters. This was 100% bought and paid for by the police department. This is absolutely vile.

Arnold also said that,”The cynicism inherent in entrapping school kids is a reflection of police attitude towards those kids,” and that as a former teacher, he saw firsthand that police harassment and violence against children “is a prevalent issue in the community.”

Comment by Vicki Campbell

April 30, 2015 @ 12:07 am

And a longer statement from Meg Gibson, a Baltimore City school teacher at Belmont Elementary School, Facebook and Facebook chat, via Gawker. I think she sums it up well at the end:

“I was at a stoplight in front of Frederick Douglass High School and directly across from Mondawmin Mall. It was exactly 3 p.m. The mall was on lockdown. There were police helicopters flying overhead. The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall, turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board.They were waiting for the kids. As I sat at the intersection of Gwynns Falls, I saw several police cars arriving at the scene. I saw the armored police vehicle arrive. Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown.

Bear these facts in mind too, every day hundreds of kids leave Frederick Douglass and walk across the street and through the mall to catch the buses on the far side of the mall. Their school releases at about 2:25.

I just wish people could recognize how insane this would be if their kids were released from school to buzzing police helicopters, police in riot gear, and their child being prevented from taking transportation home. It would be a national outrage.”

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