Freddie Gray Protests Extend to New York, Ferguson - Rolling Stone
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Freddie Gray Protests Extend to New York, Ferguson

Demonstrations spread nationwide as report reveals witness allegedly heard Gray “intentionally trying to injure himself” in police van

Freddie Gray RiotFreddie Gray Riot

Protestors march in New York in solidarity with Baltimore residents over the death of Freddie Gray.

Kena Betancur/Getty

The streets of Baltimore experienced a quieter night Wednesday as the riots that marred the city earlier in the week were muted by a strict 10 p.m. curfew and a massive police presence. However, the protests sparked by the death of Freddie Gray extended to New York City, Boston, Denver, Washington, D.C. and Ferguson, Missouri.

In New York, hundreds of protestors gathered in Union Square in a show of solidarity to those in Baltimore rallying after Gray suffered fatal injuries while in police custody. The protests also criticized police tactics in light of the deaths of Gray, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the latter killed after police administered a chokehold while placing him in custody.

“Freddie Gray, Michael Brown. Shut it down, shut it down,” protestors chanted as they walked the streets, the New York Times reports. While police warned that protestors who blocked traffic would be arrested, the march eventually made it way to the Holland Tunnel, obstructing that passage’s entrance. In all, the NYPD made over 60 arrests stemming from Wednesday’s protests.

In Ferguson, protestors gathered for the second straight night near the same intersection where the riots in that Missouri town erupted following the death of Brown. Tuesday night, hundreds of protestors galvanized by the death of Gray hit the streets to grieve against another alleged instance of police brutality. What began as peaceful demonstration devolved into minor chaos as protestors hurled rocks at police vehicles and set a portable toilet on fire, the Huffington Post reports.

Also on Tuesday, three people were hospitalized in Ferguson with gunshots wounds sustained during that night’s looting. Two people were shot in the neck and the other in the leg, but none of the injuries were considered life-threatening, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. A 20-year-old male was arrested in connection with at least one of the shootings.

Wednesday night’s protests in Ferguson were calmer, but not without incident, as dozens of demonstrators returned to the streets, where they blocked traffic and chanted “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” The crowd eventually dissipated when confronted with police in riot gear.

While the exact nature of Gray’s death remains unclear, a new witness who was also in the back of the police van with Gray has revealed more information while also shifting blame away from police. Baltimore police had written in their reports that Gray was arrested without incident, and the nature of his injuries has become subject of debate. (Gray also wasn’t fastened into a seat belt in the police vehicle, which police have admitted was a breach of protocol.) According to the Washington Post, the unnamed prisoner told investigators that Gray was “banging against the wall” and “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

That prisoner, who is currently in jail, could not actually see Gray in the van because his view was blocked by metal partitions, but he did relay what he heard to investigators. The prisoner’s identity was not revealed in an effort to protect the inmate’s safety.

In a statement, Gray family attorney Jason Downs questioned the veracity of the police report. “We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” Downs said. “We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters arrested during Baltimore’s riots were released from jail without charges Wednesday night, as police were unable to complete their paperwork on time, NBC News reports. By law, suspects who aren’t formally charged within 24 hours must be released from custody. A public defender filed habeas corpus petitions on behalf of many of the protestors arrested Monday, resulting in their release from the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.

Gray was apprehended in Baltimore April 12th for being in possession of a switchblade. At some point during his ride in the police van, Gray suffered a medical emergency and slipped into a coma. Doctors later determined that Gray’s spine was severed 80 percent and that he had a fractured vertebrae among other injuries. He died April 19th; his funeral Monday was among the factors that sparked the initial wave of Baltimore riots.


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