A hundred protesters released without charges, but claims of mistreatment

Late Wednesday evening, Evan Davis was walking down the sidewalk beside the jail where he had been held since Monday night without charges.

“We were protesting, they were trying to clear the streets,” he says, still wearing the peach-colored shirt and tie that he was arrested in. “The part of the protests we are at, nobody was doing anything, we wasn’t burning anything, we wasn’t stealing, you know, it was just a peaceful protest. Things started getting a little crazy a couple blocks down so they start grabbing people, locking them up. We came to central booking. Nobody knew why we were here, they didn't tell us what we were charged with, we didn’t get fed for the time period that we were here, and they just wouldn’t tell us what we were locked up for. They had us piled in the cells. Cells that were supposed to be for 10 people were like over 20 people piled in the cells. They didn’t know who we were, we were just livestock. I guess it began to get too overcrowded and when that happened, they started to call out people’s names, but they still couldn’t identify us because they didn’t have no pictures for us. They started calling us by name and started releasing us seven to 10 people at a time.”

Davis is one of 101 people just released out of the back door of the Baltimore City Detention Center, without being charged, though the Baltimore City Police Department says they may still be charged.

“I’m disgusted by that,” says Natalie Finegar, the deputy district public defender for Baltimore City. “I think that’s cruel and unusual punishment if you ask. You’ve had people in Central Booking for two days without the opportunity to have contact with their families, post bail, or even know why they are there.”

Finegar filed 82 habeas petitions demanding “the release of individuals that were being held without a statement of probable cause since Monday.”

The scene outside the jail was moving. One white woman with blond hair ran out the door to her waiting boyfriend and jumped up, wrapping her arms and legs around him as they kissed. Other groups of women would come running out of the door together screaming with joy.

The women in one cell described it as torture. They say that guards sprayed mace into the cell.

“Torture,” another woman said. “We took care of each other.”

“She was having an asthma attack, because they wanted to spray mace or whatever,” Sasha Robinson, a young African-American woman picked up at Mondawmin Mall, said of her cellmate Caroline Qualls, a middle-aged administrative assistant at Johns Hopkins University who said she was picked up after kneeling and praying in front of the police on Pennsylvania Avenue. Both were arrested Monday and had not been charged. “They wouldn’t even open the door for her. We were panicking.”

“I was about to fall over,” Qualls said.

“She was, I had to grab her before she fell,” Robinson added.

One man, Shawn Carrie, a photographer who works for Vice, among other outlets, was arrested after being shot in the head by a pepper pellet for taking photographs during Monday afternoon’s fracas at Mondawmin Mall. I actually witnessed, photographed, and tweeted his arrest. “I was taking pictures and . . . he aimed at me and he shot three. One I saw go to my right, one went over that way and one went boom, right in my forehead. And I was like almost blacked out,” Carrie said, the mark on in the center of his forehead clearly visible. Then they arrested him. He said he told them “I’m a reporter, here’s my press pass.” He says the first cop wanted to cut him loose, but a superior refused to and he had been in jail ever since.

Over to the side there were medics offering care. Carrick Bastiany-Gaumnitz was having wounds on his arm dressed. He said he had been badly cut in the hand and abdomen trying to protect a bus driver from a rioter with a knife. He went to Hopkins Hospital and got stitches and “Monday I Was walking back from Fells Point and I wanted to take a picture of Pratt Street and how there was nobody there at all just to show my friends this is what is happening. I wasn’t able to take the picture because officers surrounded me very quickly for having a phone out. The officers strip searched me in the middle of Pratt Street right in front of the Capital Grill and proceeded to empty out all my contacts and started to root through them as if it were a free-for-all like anything that they saw that they liked they could keep. .  . They kept two Wi-Fi hot spots, my Sony phone, and my other . . .  touch-screen phone.” He said they never returned his belongings and he received only a Tylenol for his wounds.

Detective Woods, at the media relations desk of the Baltimore Police Department, would not comment on any alleged mistreatment.

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