BALTIMORE, MD — Thousands of people teemed through the streets of Baltimore Saturday in a protest calling for an end to police terror and racism. About 8,000 people and more than 200 cars participated, according to organizers the People's Power Assembly.
"This was the biggest demonstration in Baltimore since the Freddie Gray Rebellion in 2015," the social justice group reported.
"Thank you so much everybody who joined us, volunteered, and donated," People's Power Assembly said. "Our demands: Jail killer cops! Disband racist police! Give Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities the right and resources to defend their neighborhoods how they choose!"
The demonstration came almost two weeks after George Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis, touching off protests worldwide. Four officers involved in Floyd's arrest have been charged, and all were fired.
"In Baltimore City we are not going to put up with police brutality any more," a member of the People's Power Assembly said on a live stream during the rally Saturday on Facebook. "We are in solidarity with the protesters all around the country who are calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery" and others "slain by the racist police."
Participants marched from 20th Street at North Charles downtown past the detention center on the east side, the police headquarters on Fayette Street and across downtown, chanting "Say his name: George Floyd" and "No justice, no peace, no racist police," among other calls for change. The protest route ended at the National Guard Armory.
As protesters marched through neighborhood after neighborhood, including Douglass and Latrobe homes, onlookers raised their fists in solidarity out windows and recorded by cell phone from rooftops.
Following the mass of people, a car caravan picked up the chorus with honks and signs that said things like "Stop killing us" and "Defund the police."
It was more than 90 degrees outside Saturday, and health care professionals toting "White Coats 4 Black Lives" signs provided masks and offered assistance to anyone in need. There was also a corps of volunteer medics wearing red crosses on their clothing and gear to identify themselves, as they checked on those walking to ensure nobody was in need of aid. More than 200 people signed up to volunteer, organizers said.
Sprinkled throughout the route, police looked on from their posts as demonstrators called out for an end to police altogether.
At City Hall on North Holliday Street, in front of the Metropolitan Transition Center off East Madison Street and outside the Baltimore Police Department headquarters on East Fayette Street, officers were posted behind gates or barricades.
“There are several protests planned in Baltimore this weekend. BPD is committed to protecting rights and facilitating peaceful protests to ensure the safety of everyone," the Baltimore Police Department said in a statement before the event. "As always, if you see something, say something. We encourage everyone to call 911 or notify a police officer if you observe any suspicious or criminal activity."
Protesters said they would continue to fight for police accountability, and they called upon communities to police themselves. Organizers said more demonstrations are planned, with details forthcoming.
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All photos are by Elizabeth Janney/Patch.