The Baltimore state's attorney's office has declined to prosecute 10 youths who were arrested Saturday during a protest against police brutality that briefly blocked traffic on Interstate 83, spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said Monday.
The 55 adults who were also arrested during the protest near Artscape were charged with failure to obey and illegally walking on a highway. They were given citations and released, and did not have to appear before a court commissioner or post bail, Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said.
A freelance photographer contracted by the Baltimore City Paper and a documentary filmmaker were among those arrested. Smith said they were arrested because they were on the highway.
"This is against the law," Smith said. "No one in the media should be involved in blocking roadways."
The City Paper is owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group. A spokeswoman expressed concern over the arrest of a photographer as she was covering a news event.
"Though the contracted photographer had press credentials, she was arrested along with the protesters," spokeswoman Renee Mutchnik said. "We are disappointed and concerned that police would arrest a journalist while doing their job in providing information to the community."
The protest, called Afromation on social media, started at Guilford Avenue and Chase Street. Demonstrators walked to Artscape, the city's annual arts festival, then used an on-ramp that was closed to traffic because of Artscape to enter the Jones Falls Expressway.
The protesters blocked the highway briefly before returning to the on-ramp. Then police started making arrests.
Protesters said they cleared the highway when police told them an ambulance needed to get through, but no ambulance appeared.
Smith said he had no information about the ambulance or whether it was a tactic intended to disperse the demonstrators.
"No order was given by any supervision to mention anything about an ambulance coming," Smith said.
The Baltimore Action Legal Team, a group that sent four legal observers to the protest, released a statement saying three of the four members who had not participated in the protest were nonetheless arrested.
"Any person who favors freedom should be outraged by these arrests and the treatment protesters received," said Jenny Egan of the Baltimore Action Legal Team.