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Protests Continue in Baltimore Over In-Custody Death, Union Chief Compares Crowd to "Lynch Mob"

April 23, 2015  | 

Protests over the in-custody death of Freddie Gray are expected to continue Thursday. (Photo: Screen Shot from Baltimore Sun video)
Protests over the in-custody death of Freddie Gray are expected to continue Thursday. (Photo: Screen Shot from Baltimore Sun video)

A sixth day of protests over the death of Freddie Gray while in custody of the Baltimore PD is expected Thursday, with various demonstrations scheduled throughout the day.

Crowds have gathered outside the Western District police station since Saturday, the evening before Gray's death but have intensified over the past week.

Despite Wednesday's rain, crowds gathered outside of the station, where one protester was detained. The demonstration grew tense at times, with protesters pressing into barriers and tossing drink bottles at the dozen or so police officers on the other side, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Another group marched through downtown toward City Hall Wednesday night, blocking traffic at times, with some attempting to march up the ramp onto the Jones Falls Expressway from Gay Street.

"We do not have faith in the Mayor's office or the Baltimore City Police to conduct a fair and impartial investigation," said Rev. CD Witherspoon, an organizer with the Peoples Power Assembly, in the statement. "We base our lack of confidence on past cases such as Anthony Anderson and Tyrone West who were murdered by police. Therefore, we will do our own investigation."

The Baltimore police union president Wednesday drew outrage by comparing Freddie Gray protests to a "lynch mob" because they called for the officers involved to be jailed immediately.

Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3, expressed sympathy for the family of Gray, 25, who died from a spinal cord injury Sunday morning, a week after he was chased and arrested by police. Officials have not said how he was hurt but believe it happened during the 30-minute ride in the back of a police van.

Ryan expressed concern about the "rhetoric of the protests," which have continued all week since Gray's death.

"The images seen on television look and sound much like a lynch mob in that they care 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," Ryan said in a statement.

"We've been the victims of the lynching and now we're the lynch mob?" William "Billy" Murphy the Gray family's attorney responded. "The president of the police union called peaceful protests and the anger at the death of a man to severe and unfathomable injuries while in police custody a lynch mob? It doesn't get more insensitive or insulting than that. These remarks illustrate why black people and the police don't get along."

Murphy told the Baltimore Sun he wanted "an immediate apology and a retraction."

"He needs to issue an apology at the speed of light and focus on the more important issues of how this black man didn't deserve to die and have his spinal cord severed and his neck broken — how that happened," Murphy said.

Ryan walked back the comment in a news conference with police union attorney Mike Davey, saying, "Maybe I need to reword that," while continuing to stand up for the officers he said had committed no crime.

Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

KevCopAz @ 4/23/2015 3:34 PM

How about everyone just stop the BS and wait for the investigation. Both sides should shut their respective mouths and wait for the investigators to finish their work and the Justice system to do its job. This kind of back and forth does no one any good. SHUT THE HELL UP and wait, don't pull a Ferguson. OK?

Jon Retired LEO @ 4/23/2015 3:35 PM

This situation should be right up the new Attorney General's alley.

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