WASHINGTON -- Members of Baltimore-based group are planning to protest former Gov. Martin O'Malley's expected presidential announcement on Saturday, arguing that his policing strategy as mayor is partly responsible for the riots that occurred last month.
But they scaled back their original plans, one organizer said Saturday, in part because protest activities were being restricted to a fenced-in area separate from O'Malley supporters.
O'Malley, the former two term governor and mayor of Baltimore has faced questions over his tough-on-crime policies in the city — criticism that was amplified following death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody.
"I'm doing it because O'Malley didn't do nothing for Baltimore," said Duane Davis of Baltimore Bloc, a group that was involved in protests following Gray's death. "He created a prison system in Maryland. That's his legacy."
Davis has a colorful history in Maryland and elsewhere, and has been a longtime critic of O'Malley. He was charged in 2011 for leaving a toilet rigged with electronic devices outside a former courthouse in Towson (police thought it was a bomb). That same year he sued O'Malley, but his case was quickly dismissed.
Election records show Davis filed as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2014 but was later disqualified.
Davis declined to say how many protesters he expects to attend on Saturday. The group planned to march from Federal Hill, where O'Malley will make his announcement, to City Hall. Protesters then planned feed the homeless at a shelter, he said.
But after it became clear any protest activities would be contained in a fenced-in area separate from the general public, Baltimore Bloc organizers decided against any organized demonstration, Davis said Saturday morning. Members of the group plan to attend as individuals, he said.
O'Malley has noted the city's sharp decline in violent crime under his tenure as mayor. His supporters have also pointed out that he was elected three times with strong support from African American communities despite questions over police strategy at the time.
Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Dance contributed to this article.