More than 100 protesters marched from the Inner Harbor to Mount Vernon on Thursday night to interrupt Baltimore's Washington Monument lighting with a peaceful but loud demonstration in the middle of the annual holiday event.
The march followed protests at Morgan State University and across the country, prompted by two separate grand jury decisions in which white police officers were not indicted in the deaths of unarmed black men.
"No justice, no holiday! No justice, no peace!" the protesters chanted, holding cardboard signs in front of the concert stage at the monument lighting and drowning out the Roland Park Country School Semiquavers a cappella ensemble.
The Morgan State University Choir next took the stage. Demonstrators swayed back and forth, their hands up in a "don't shoot" pose, as the choir sang. The protest chants resumed after the song ended, and as the choir left the stage, many singers drew cheers by joining the crowd, also putting their hands in the air.
Because of the protest, the event was shortened by 30 minutes, with two high school choirs cut from the concert and a fireworks display moved from 7:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., said Mike Evitts, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, which sponsored the event.
"The protesters were very peaceful and very cordial, but they were making it hard to hear what was happening at the front," he said.
The organizers didn't want to be insensitive to the protesters, the performers or the people who had come out to see the event, Evitts said, but "ultimately we decided to shorten the program, because you just don't know what could happen."
Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" blared over calls of "Black lives matter!" as fireworks exploded above the Washington Monument.
Protesters then left the Mount Vernon event and marched through downtown Baltimore, closing several intersections en route to City Hall. No arrests related to the demonstrations were made Thursday night, said Baltimore Police spokesman Detective Howard Ruganzu.
A group of student protesters marched silently through Morgan State's campus earlier Thursday as thousands marched in New York City after a grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
Large groups of students had previously protested on campus after the announcement that a grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., did not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown, who was unarmed.
On Thursday, the Morgan State students walked single-file from the university student center through the heart of campus to Truth Hall, which houses the campus administration. Once on the fourth floor, students walked down a narrow hallway into the office of President David Wilson to deliver sheets on which they had written what Ferguson meant to them.
"That's our representation. We want to show them how we feel," said Chinedu Nwokeafor, a Morgan State junior who led the silent march.
Students also protested last week after the grand jury decision in Ferguson. Protesters then had shut down multiple intersections around Morgan State for hours but remained peaceful.