Two activists arrested during protest at City Hall

Two activists who entered Baltimore City Hall on Monday afternoon and demanded to speak with the mayor about a wide range of issues affecting city residents were later arrested for trespassing and escorted out of the building in handcuffs.

They never met with the mayor.

The Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon, of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Sharon Black, of the Baltimore People's Assembly, had wanted to deliver a letter to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake that demanded an "emergency meeting" to discuss police brutality, the closing of recreation centers and fire companies, and the creation of more city jobs programs, according to the letter.

Their efforts were supported by more than 50 protesters outside City Hall from a variety of activist groups in the city, including Occupy Baltimore, and representatives from communities where recreation centers and fire companies have closed. Relatives of at least two police shooting victims were in attendance, as was the mother of a teen allegedly killed by an off-duty police officer in Baltimore County.

The protest began about 3:30 p.m., with attendees waving signs and flags and making demands similar to those expressed in the letter.

Witherspoon and Black were both told multiple times that City Hall closes to the public at 6 p.m., and of the proper procedure for scheduling a meeting with the mayor, who can't meet with everyone who walks through the door every day, said Detective Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

Officers "tried to cooperate" with Witherspoon and Black, but the pair "almost seemed like they wanted to be arrested in civil disobedience," Monroe said.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Witherspoon and Black were arrested for trespassing and escorted out of the building in handcuffs, where they were greeted by cheers from the protesters.

"This has been a tremendous step," said Andre Powell, another member of the Baltimore People's Assembly, shortly after Witherspoon and Black were driven away in a police van. "We have upped the ante today at City Hall."

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