Freddie Gray Death: Protesters, Police Scuffle in Baltimore

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BALTIMORE – At least two people were taken into custody as protesters upset over the death of Freddie Gray clashed Thursday evening with police on the streets of Baltimore.

Tensions rose as demonstrators confronted police, several of whom shouted: “Back up!”

The Baltimore Police Department said the two were detained for disorderly conduct and destruction of property.

Protesters rallied at City Hall before marching to a police station. Some walked through traffic. In one instance, they surrounded a police car.

Gray died Sunday, one week after he was arrested by Baltimore police.

At some point, he suffered a severe spinal cord injury. His family said his voice box was crushed and his neck snapped before he slipped into a coma and died.

“The police have a lot of questions that need to be answered,” Andrew O’Connell, an attorney for the Gray family, told CNN. “What was the reasonable suspicion? Why were they arresting our client? These are pretty big questions that need to be answered.”

“He had no weapon in his hand. He was committing no crime and he wasn’t hurting anybody. The police had no reasonable suspicion to stop or arrest him,” the attorney said.

While Baltimore police say five of the six officers involved in the arrest have provided statements to investigators, the department has not released details of what the officers said or how Gray might have suffered the fatal injury.

Protesters are upset over the apparent lack of information, and — recently — a police union’s comparison of the demonstrations to a “lynch mob.”

“While we appreciate the right of our citizens to protest and applaud the fact that, to date, the protests have been peaceful, we are very concerned about the rhetoric of the protests,” the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“In fact, the images seen on television look and sound much like a lynch mob in that they are calling for the immediate imprisonment of these officers without them ever receiving the due process that is the constitutional right of every citizen, including law enforcement officers.”

That comparison drew swift and sharp criticism, given the history of lynchings of African-Americans in the United States. Rooted in the racial ire of the Civil War, the extrajudicial mob killings of blacks, other minorities and people opposed to oppression of minorities were common in the segregated South. More than 4,000 people were murdered between 1877 and 1950 in 12 Southern states, according to a recent report. But lynchings weren’t restricted to the South, and they have deeply scarred race relations in the country.

“Which one is the #LynchMob again?” John Cotton tweeted, posting a photo of a peaceful protest next to photos of Gray during his arrest and hospitalization.

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