Charges dropped against #AFROMATION juveniles, organizers and participants respond to BPD's actions

The Baltimore State's Attorney's Office dropped charges against 10 underage participants in the #AFROMATION protest that briefly went onto I-83 last Saturday during Artscape, according to a report in The Sun.

T.J. Smith, spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, told the paper that the remaining 55 people they arrested during the protest were issued citations and released. They were charged with "failure to obey and illegally walking on a highway."

Smith stood by the detention of a City Paper photographer and documentary filmmaker. "This is against the law," he said. "No one in the media should be involved in blocking roadways."

A spokesman for The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which owns City Paper, said she was "disappointed and concerned that police would arrest a journalist while doing their job in providing information to the community."

In the wake of the protest, lawyers, witnesses, and participants have called the police's aggressive tactics into question.

Legal observers at the Baltimore Action Legal Team wrote in a blog post that the "targeted arrests of peaceful protestors and Legal Observers is a shameful tactic that demonstrates that the Baltimore Police Department’s goal was not to uphold the law, but to silence dissent. Any person who favors freedom should be outraged by these arrests and the treatment protesters received."

The post also recounted the "brutal neglect and disorganzied detainment" of the 55 adults taken in by the BPD.

Evan Mahone, a member of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance, wrote a post for the organization's Facebook page about her experience being arrested.

It begins: "While my experience with the actually getting arrested part was dehumanizing, as I was degendered and misgendered--the rest of my experience with the police that night was not the worst. One officer even asked me about my preferred name, and if I needed to take any medication. While we were waiting in the Northern district parking lot one officer consistently referred to me as female, and allowed me to stay with other women. I was treated as a human, and given some amount of respect."

Mahone says her experience would not have been the same if she were black.

"The Baltimore Police Department routinely dehumanizes, harasses, and arrests black transwomen, and transwomen of color, just for being trans," she writes.

In yet another post, a local blogger and photographer relayed the experience of her 72-year-old father, who was arrested and held in a paddy wagon for nearly seven hours. 

"'It was like torture,' Dad said. 'I swear to god, it was like, if I was trying to torture somebody and get them to make a confession or something, this is what I’d do to them, you know?'"

While in the wagon, an activist yelled out for help, the post says, "but no one came."

"Eventually he vomited onto the floor and passed out."

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