About 75 people marched Sunday through Baltimore to show solidarity with Louisville after a Kentucky grand jury charged no officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. Activists then sprayed Baltimore’s federal courthouse with graffiti in support of Black Lives Matter and opposing President Donald Trump and Gov. Larry Hogan.
The protesters gathered in Pearlstone Park, near the Maryland Institute College of Art, before marching through the city. A person who declined to be identified said the protest was organized by Baltimore BLOC, a grassroots organization that has protested the death of George Floyd and opposed the Christopher Columbus statue that sat near the Inner Harbor before it was toppled this summer.
After this article was published, Baltimore BLOC issued a denial on Twitter: “We did not organize the demo yesterday and we did not graffiti anything,” the group tweeted. The Baltimore Sun has been unable to confirm who organized the protest.
“They said we should protest peacefully, and we’ve got something to say to that,” a man who also declined to be identified said through a bullhorn. “No justice, no peace.”
The group joined demonstrators around the United States who were enraged that a grand jury didn’t indict officers in the shooting of Taylor, a Black woman who was slain in her Louisville home by officers conducting a drug investigation.
The man with the bullhorn said the protest was not only to show support for Taylor but also to ensure that Baltimore doesn’t forget its own history with police violence.
“People in this city are acting like Freddie Gray’s murder is a distant memory,” the man said, referring to the 2015 death of Gray, who was fatally injured while in police custody.
Before embarking on their march to the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. District Courthouse, the man with the bullhorn reminded attendees of their rights if a police officer were to stop and attempt to arrest them. The phone number for the Baltimore Action Legal Team was also distributed to protesters.
Several protesters declined to be interviewed, saying they were afraid for their safety. As a Baltimore Sun reporter and photojournalist tried to follow the march route, demonstrators repeatedly cursed and told them to leave, then shielded themselves with umbrellas, blocking the journalists from continuing on the route. The journalists continued by car.
Dressed in all black, the marchers weaved their way through the Mount Vernon neighborhood and downtown Baltimore on their way to the federal courthouse.
There, an American flag was ripped from a pole, and graffiti messages were sprayed on the building: “Hogan is crook,” “BLM" and “F--- Trump DHS,” in apparent reference to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security.
Baltimore Police said they could not confirm if any arrests were made, but confirmed that the group sprayed the courthouse.
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This article has been updated to include a response from Baltimore BLOC.