BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — The Baltimore Police Department on Tuesday shed more light on the mass arrest of dozens of protesters, led by the group Afromation, who locked arms and shut down traffic on part of the Jones Falls Expressway over the weekend.
Despite suggestions from some of those arrested that they were not “treated well,” no formal complaints have been lodged against the agency in the wake of the arrests of at least 65 people, police said in a statement tweeted from an official account.
According to police, some of the arrestees objected to the time it took to process them, the heat in the back of police wagons, and people getting sick and feeling “uncomfortable,” the statement said.
But, contrary to what those arrestees had to say, police said there was a supervising officer present whose scope of duty included checking on the well-being of each detainee. In fact, according to police, that officer made sure protesters had opportunities to stretch, use the bathroom and have their hand restraints moved from the back to the front.
As for the temperature inside the vans, police said wagon drivers were subject to the same heat arrestees, ten of whom were minors, dealt with “as they stood outside of the vans with the doors open.”
Those arrested were cited for offensives related to blocking traffic and causing unnecessary dangers to drivers and themselves, including failure to obey and illegally walking on a highway, according to police. The statement included an apparent reference to the scrutiny placed on the agency’s police wagons following the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a neck injury inside one after his arrest last year.
“The (police department) is acutely aware of the level of scrutiny that has been placed on us and specifically the transport wagons themselves,” the statement said in part. “…Arrestees were processed as quickly as possible and once they were completed, they were free to leave.”
Protesters told WJZ’s Marcus Washington they have no regrets.
“We are willing to do what it takes to make sure that people understand that we are serious about our message. We are not trying to be violent but when it comes to disrupting spaces that people find are safe spaces, we’re willing to disrupt those so people can hear our pain, hear our hurt,” said a protester identified only as Blair.