April 25 marked a day of mass protest and rebellion against the Baltimore Police Department and the killer cops responsible for the unjust murder of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
Thousands poured into the streets for heroic and militant action against police brutalityand city corruption, and to demand justice for Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured by Baltimore police while taken into custody on April 12. The crowd was remarkably diverse, and people from all walks of life came together to march with the Gray family through Baltimore’s West Side, downtown and Inner Harbor. With consciousness at such a high level, even rival gang members from the Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Folk Nation, Pirus, and Black Guerrilla Family set aside their differences as they marched together in solidarity with fists in the air for Freddie Gray.
Demonstrators gathered at 1 p.m. for a rally at the intersection of N. Mount and Pressbury Streets in the heart of Gilmor Homes public housing where Gray was arrested. Chanting “All night, all day, we will fight for Freddie Gray!” and “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” the people’s voices resonated throughout the entire Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood as police helicopters and a drone surveilled the gathering. Full of anger and rage, protesters marched around the neighborhood attracting many more local residents to fill the crowd until 3 p.m., when another group of demonstrators joined in.
From there, the march made its way to North Avenue and headed south on Pennsylvania Avenue, shutting down traffic on these major streets. Energy remained high throughout until the march stopped for a moment of silence in front of Shock Trauma, the hospital where Freddie Gray died. After paying respect to the late Freddie Gray at his site of death, marchers continued through downtown Baltimore down Pratt Street past the Inner Harbor, shutting down the city’s largest commercial area, to the plaza in front of City Hall.
Protest turns into rebellion
Knowing the current political establishment would be unresponsive to the people’s demands, tension rose between demonstrators and the police as protest turned into rebellion and anger into rage. Standoffs between the people and the cops began on Pratt Street near Camden Yards, where thousands of others showed up for the Orioles baseball game and were placed on lockdown because of the demonstration, with broad rebellion spreading to multiple fronts between the Inner Harbor and the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.
Militant protesters, mostly comprised of residents from the city’s West Side, began smashing in police car windows until cops in riot gear and on horses arrived to confront them. Protesters stood strong in numbers while facing off with the cops, who were decked out in shields, armor, helmets, batons, pepper spray, tasers and sidearms. The crowd shamed the police and highlighted their racist nature by comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan. Amidst hours of confrontation, peaceful protesters were tear gassed and eventually chased in an attempt by the police to intimidate and disperse the crowd.
After sundown, men, women and children from the local Sandtown-Winchester community reconvened in front of the Western District Precinct, where more lines of cops stood in riot gear behind a fortified barrier, outnumbered and in fear. The chant “Who’s streets? Our streets!” echoed throughout the night as protesters courageously faced off with the cops. Around 8:30 p.m., the people stepped up the confrontation and began throwing eggs, glass bottles, trash cans, and other heavy objects at the armed cops. Over a dozen riot police with shields stepped out from the barrier to push the people back, with little success due to overwhelming resistance by the people of Sandtown-Winchester. During the offensive, one protester began vomiting uncontrollably and gasping for air as he stood with broken ribs after a forceful blow to the abdomen by police batons. More blunt projectiles rained down on the riot cops as they retreated behind their barricade.
While Liberation News remained at this struggle, several other conflicts of similar character occurred late into the night in other parts of Sandtown-Winchester. Contrary to the mainstream media’s narrative of “outside agitators” and “rioters” causing the escalated events, the rebellion against the Baltimore Police Department and struggle against police brutality was led mostly by Baltimore’s West Side residents, those most affected by the murder of Freddie Gray by the police.
Revolutionaries, progressives and all people who stand against police brutality must recognize this fact and support the Black community of Sandtown-Windchester as it fights for self-determination in their struggle against decades of racist police terror, no matter what tactics they choose. Liberation News and the Party for Socialism and Liberation give a revolutionary salute to the family of Freddie Gray and all the heroic women and men who stood up to the racist police forces in Baltimore!