Baltimore City

Baltimore’s medical establishment and the black, trans community join protests after death of George Floyd

Demonstrators representing Baltimore’s black, transgender community and two of the city’s most established medical institutions protested racial injustice Friday. It was the eighth straight day of local rallies since the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

A crowd shouting “Black Trans Lives Matter" outside City Hall swelled to about 200, then marched through downtown. Demonstrators wore masks and carried signs showing faces of transgender people who have been killed by police or murdered — each activist spoke to the harm of erasing transgender voices.


“Everyone is reposting these pictures of trans women and trans men who have been killed, but who is really doing something?" said Tiara Moten, a 19-year-old transgender woman, during the afternoon rally. "Who is really standing outside in the heat to make sure our voices our heard?”

Earlier, workers at seven Johns Hopkins Medicine locations and the University of Maryland Medical Center “took a knee" for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Floyd had been pinned — to support “White Coats for Black Lives," a series of nationwide demonstrations.


The events were the latest in a nationwide wave of protests since Floyd’s death, some of which turned violent. The killing of the black Minnesota man as a police officer pinned his neck to the ground and he called out in pain was captured on video.

The outrage at Floyd’s death mirrored anger and frustrations expressed locally by residents after the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in 2015. Ultimately, six officers were charged but not convicted in Gray’s death, but the events forced the city to undertake widespread policing reforms under an ongoing federal consent decree.

While other cities have experienced violence and looting, Baltimore’s protests have been largely calm, as protesters have intervened in the crowds to keep peace.

On Thursday, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison walked with a group along Baltimore Street and took a knee with them during a moment of silence. Other officers also have taken a knee as a gesture of solidarity with protesters.

As the crowd supporting the black, transgender community marched Friday through downtown, demonstrators yelled, “Say his name: Tony McDade" for a 38-year-old black transgender man who was killed by a Tallahassee, Fla., police officer in May.

Officials said McDade was the suspect in the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old, and that when confronted by police, McDade brandished a handgun, prompting an officer to shoot. But witness accounts have conflicted with information released by police, according to news reports. Initial reports from police also used the wrong gender for McDade.

At one point during the march through downtown Baltimore, the group stopped and also took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Later, protesters laid down in the middle of St. Paul Street, stopping traffic.

Iya Dammons, lead organizer of the demonstration with Baltimore Safe Haven, said Friday was a remarkable moment for the city — its first large-scale protest for the black, trans community.


“We have never seen this. This is historical. This is the first time it has ever been done,” Dammons said. “This is a historical time today.”

In the evening, about 50 remaining protesters joined a group holding a vigil for 16-year-old Ala’junaye Davis, who was fatally shot Saturday. She was one of 39 people in the city killed last month.

“She was a part of the city. And everyone here behind me can vouch for that,” Davis’ mother, Brandi Thomas, told the crowd.

Even as a heavy rain began, her family and others remembering the teen embraced under umbrellas.

Earlier Friday, groups of physicians and other medical personnel gathered for rallies to show unity for the black community.

Agnes Usoro and Thomas Elliott organized events at seven Hopkins locations Friday called “White Coats for Black Lives," part of other nationwide events. The two are members of the house staff diversity council, which represent staff residents at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.


“All of us were moved by the national movements," Usoro said.

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The house council wanted to show the community that Johns Hopkins is “standing in solidarity” with protests nationwide, she said.

“We truly believe that all lives matter, but black lives, in particular, given what’s been going on, matter,” Usoro said. “We wanted to show that Johns Hopkins isn’t going to stay silent because we care for our community, which is a predominantly black community in this area of Baltimore.”

Similarly, the University of Maryland Medical Center, observed events at 3 p.m. where physicians and other employees gathered for eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence for Floyd.

Annapolis High School students continued protests Friday in Annapolis, where about 200 young people gathered chanting Floyd’s name, along with that of Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray and others killed by police.

The group marched from the Alex Haley Memorial outside the Market House up Main Street to the statehouse, stopping to take a knee in the traffic circle outside Maryland Avenue. They too knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds.


When they returned to City Dock in Annapolis, protesters sang “Happy Birthday” and held a moment of silence for Taylor, who would have turned 27 on Friday. Taylor was fatally shot by a Louisville Metro Police Department officer inside her home on March 13.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton and photographer Ulysses Muñoz and Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Selene San Felice contributed to this article.