BPD arrests four May Day protesters, including C.D. Witherspoon

BPD arrests four May Day protesters, including C.D. Witherspoon
A sign made by May Day protesters in Baltimore. It was later placed in the middle of Gay Street, where the group blocked traffic. Four were arrested. (Marie Machin/For City Paper)

Baltimore police officers arrested four May Day protesters, including noted activist Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon, after a group unfurled a yellow sign on Gay Street, outside the United States Customs House downtown, and sat down in the street.

The sign's message:


"Our Demands:

1. City Jobs Program
2. $15 An Hour Now
3. Abolish ICE & Permanent Residency for Immigrants
4. End Police Terror


The rally, which included about 60 protesters, was organized by the Women's Fightback Network Maryland/D.C., Peoples Power Assembly, and Workers World Party-Baltimore and was part of a larger wave of pro-labor, anti-Trump protests around the world, started in McKeldin Square around 3 p.m. and moved through the downtown area.

Stopping at Baltimore's Customs House was tied to one of the central points of the "Baltimore May Day Global Strike" to "defend immigrants and Muslims."

"ICE is the notorious agency that has brutally separated immigrant families and deported scores of immigrants under new orders from the Trump administration," said Sharon Black, People's Power Assembly spokesperson, in a released statement

Protesters initially stood in the street around the sign on Gay Street, blocking traffic, and police warned that anyone who didn't want to be arrested should move to the sidewalk. Most did, but four people, including Witherspoon, continued to sit on the pavement with the sign and were arrested. People's Power Assembly identified the other three as Rasika Ruwanpathirana, Andrew Mayton, and Alec Summerfield. When the arrestees were placed in the police van, they were recorded by another police officer.

Nicole Monroe, a spokeswoman for the BPD, said four adult males were taken into custody for obstructing the roadway.

"Police gave multiple warnings and all but four protesters complied," she wrote in an email. "According to officers on the scene, the four protesters expressed that they wanted to be arrested."

It was not immediately clear if they would face charges or be issued citations.

The protest wrapped up near City Hall with food and music, as is often the case with PPA-related protests and events.

Additional reporting by Brandon Soderberg