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Protests continue outside Baltimore City Hall after overnight sit-in

Protests continued outside City Hall Thursday morning, just hours after Baltimore police arrested 16 people who occupied City Hall overnight following a City Council committee approved the permanent appointment of interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on Wednesday.

Lawrence Grandpre was among about a dozen protesters that returned to the area outside City Hall around 8 a.m. Thursday. Grandpre, with Baltimore United for Change, said he hasn't personally talked to the protesters who were arrested but the group has a legal team that has.

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"They all are saying they are doing OK," he said. But he said supporters are worried about the health of those arrested since many had not eaten in 14 hours.

He said some supporters tried to deliver food to protesters inside City Hall overnight but they were denied by police. Their treatment "shows callousness and inhumanity," Grandpre said.

Three minors and 13 others were arrested and were all charged by police with trespassing. The 13 adults arrested were being held at Central Booking and waiting to see court commissioners at noon on Thursday. Commissioners are responsible for reviewing charging documents and finding that there was probable cause for police to make an arrest and either setting an initial bail amount or releasing a detainee. The process -- from arrest through hearing and release -- can take many hours.

"The goal is to get our protesters out of jail," and to make sure they have proper representation, Grandpre said. Secondly, he said, they plan to continue to advance the agenda they introduced Wednesday night.

Activists spoke briefly at City Hall Thursday, asking for donations to support those arrested last night -- $3,000 for each of the 16 arrested.

Grandpre said that under Davis' command, police have shown "a clear shift in tactics" in responding to protesters, which infringes on their first amendment rights. He said police have been far too quick to make arrests.

In addition, Grandpre said the protest group is also asking for the resignation the city's housing commissioner Paul T. Graziano amid allegations of sexual assault by maintenance workers at Gilmor Homes in West Baltimore, and funding for youth resources instead of a youth jail.

For those youth exercising their rights and expressing themselves to be arrested sends a wrong message, he said. Rather, he said, city leaders should be engaging youth, and listening to their concerns.

Earlier Wednesday night the committee meeting to appoint Davis as commissioner drew a large crowd — with supporters praising Davis' approach to policing and others criticizing his brief tenure at the helm of the department.

Many of the protesters were teenagers — some of them high school students. City schools are closed Thursday and Friday, scheduled professional development days for teachers.

About 3:15 a.m. many of the remaining protesters left City Hall saying that dozens of officers had appeared in the hallway near the room where they were located with flex-cuffs. Officers warned that City Hall was closed and arrests would be made, protesters said.

Grandpre, one of the protesters who left, said those remaining were "young people being young people, and talking a lot about social justice." He said watching the youth protesters' "level of commitment to social justice is empowering."

At about 4:45 a.m. at least 12 protesters who remained inside had been arrested, and officers escorted them outside to police vans.

Baltimore Police said that after "hours of communication and warnings, a small number of protesters inside of City Hall decided to leave the building." The remaining protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing, police said, adding there were no reported injuries to any protesters or officers.

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Baltimore Sun reporters Kevin Rector and Ian Duncan contributed to this story.

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