Afromation Protest In Baltimore Against Police Violence

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Above: Protesters and police confront each other on I 83 in Baltimore. Photo by Larry Cohen. For more photos of the Afromation protest visit Larry Cohen’s page.

is an affirmation of black life.

The Afromation protest in Baltimore stood up for black life and the importance of black culutre in the face of ongoing killings.

The march was held on the anniversary of the birth of one of the early leaders of the Civil Rights movement, Ida B. Wells, an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. At the peak time of lynchings, she published an investigative report on lynching in her Memphis newspaper in 1892. Many see today’s police killings as modern lynchings. In fact, extra-judicial killings by the police, now number more than four times the number of people lynched or executed by capital punishment in the worst of years.

It was also the anniversary of the birth of Assata Shakur, a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, currently living in Cuba. In her autobiography she wrote: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” This was one of the chants people shouted during the Afromation protest. While some criticize the blocking of roads, bridges and highways, those with a memory of civil rights history know that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., now memoralized with a statute on the Washington, DC mall, also employed these types of tactics. The activists with Afromation recognize they are following the footsteps of great African American civil rights leaders.

To understand the reasons for protests in Baltimore and across the nation, we must look at the “race-based trauma” caused by police killings. As we prepared to march, I was talking with two of our colleagues. They described how it felt to be an African American man and see video of people who look like them being killed by police for no reason. It creates a trauma that requires them to act in order to stop it.

The demands of the Afromation protests are reasonable: 1. An all-elected civilain complaint review board to give communities control of the police and self-determination; 2. A ten percent cut in the police budget away from militarization of the police and surveillance of the community with the funds used for community programming.

The extent of the problems in Baltimore police are described in a series of tweets by Dr. Lawrence Brown and show that major transformation of the police is needed. The Baltimore police are currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice.

Here are some scenes from the Afromation protest in Baltimore on July 16, 2016.

As peopole tried to leave the police blocked off the entrance to the highway and tried to arrest everyone. Some were people who had left Artscape just to watch the scene or take pictures and video. The legal observers, wearing green hats, were also arrested. The decision to make a mass arrest resulted in many innocent people being arrested. This was an abuse of discretion by Lt. Thompson, who has been a problem at other free speech events in Baltimore.

Jail support was outside the detention center and into the morning to ensure people were there to greet those released. It was not until the next morning that everyone was released. During jail support there was a double rainbow over east Baltimore.