More than 200 people were held in jail for two days after they were arrested Monday during protests in Baltimore over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Attorneys who rushed to provide legal aid to the jailed protesters described chaos at the city’s courthouse and lock-up.
Some of the protesters were being held without charges and most didn’t appear before a judge or bail commissioner until Wednesday.
Katie D’Adamo, a lawyer with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, told Buzzfeed that hearings weren’t held until Wednesday morning, with those arrested appearing in court via a video link.
Baltimore City Paper reporter Caitlin Goldblatt was tweeting about the situation:
By Wednesday afternoon, more than 100 protesters were released without charges, according to the Maryland Public Defender’s Office.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Governor Has Suspended the State’s Habeus Corpus Law/h2>
State law requires that a person who is arrested be given a court hearing within 24 hours. But that has been suspended by Governor Larry Hogan as part of a state of emergency in the city.
See the order below:
The Maryland Public Defender’s Office has questioned the legality of the arrests and of the ruling, according to The Daily Record. The office said in a statement:
We challenge the wisdom of suspending justice for arrestees in this time of civil turmoil. The Judiciary promulgates the Maryland Rules. The Court of Appeals [Maryland’s top court] has not amended or changed the rules that require these important safeguards.
The courts must not create an appearance of lawlessness at this time, but rather must diligently observe the important safeguards of liberty that are sacred in our society. Moreover, we are being told that now that hearings have resumed, the bails that are being imposed on our indigent clients from this impoverished community are prohibitively high. The practice of setting excessive money bail, which only the wealthy could post, is discriminatory.
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said in a statement to Buzzfeed:
While we may be in a state of crisis, what we do know, under the American system of justice, people who were arrested and have not been arraigned, have not been charged, are in fact innocent,” Brooks told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. “The fact that we have 200 people who are sitting in legal limbo is concerning. I know we are in a midst of unrest and potential violence, but we certainly want to see these people processed as quickly as possible.
2. Courts Were Closed Tuesday Because of the Protests
According to Buzzfeed, courts were closed Tuesday because of the protests. Only one court was open Wednesday, according to the Maryland courts website.
Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said at a press conference Wednesday that more than 100 people were waiting in jail to be charged after being arrested during Monday’s rioting. He said police would have to charge them within 48 hours of their arrests or they will be allowed to go free. They were later released, the public defender’s office said. About 100 others have already been charged, he said. The majority of those charged were given cash-only bails that they were unable to pay.
Kowalczyk said the backlog was because officers who have to fill out documents and complete other paperwork for charges to be filed have been on the streets. He said that the protesters could still face charges, even if they are released, after police review photos and video from Monday.
The Maryland Public Defender’s Office has put out a call for private attorneys to help in defending the more than 200 protesters arrested in the city, according to The Daily Record.
Paul B. DeWolfe also told the newspaper that they will argue against bail that the protesters would be unable to pay:
This is a poor community. Putting high bonds on those who cannot afford even nominal bonds sends the wrong message — that if you have money you get released — and may fan the flames of frustration.
According to the Guardian, a 19-year-old charged with 8 offenses, including riot, theft and disorderly conduct, was held on $500,000 bail. Other high bail amounts were also set, with those receiving them being forced to pay the full cash up front.
3. Attorneys Said the Protesters Were Crammed Into Small Cells & Haven’t Been Able to Shower
Katie D’Adamo, from the city public defender’s office, told Buzzfeed that the protesters were being held in small cells and have not been allowed to shower. The 34 juveniles who were arrested are being held at a separate facility.
The adults are being held at the Baltimore Booking & Intake Center.
4. Protester Joseph Kent & Journalist Shawn Carrie Were Among Those Being Held
Joseph Kent remains in custody and is not on the list to have a bail hearing Wednesday after he was arrested Tuesday night about 30 minutes after a 10 p.m. curfew went into effect. His arrest gone viral after he was seen being grabbed by heavily armed officers or National Guardsmen on CNN video.
Kent remained in custody Wednesday night.
Journalist Shawn Carrie was hit arrested after being shot in the head with a rubber bullet on Monday, according to Caitlin Goldbatt, a reporter for the Baltimore City Paper. He has not been charged, his attorney says, and has been refused medical treatment.
Carrie tweeted about his arrest and experience in lockup:
5. The City Remains Under a State of Emergency With a Curfew
Baltimore remains under a State of Emergency with a curfew set for 10 p.m. for all adults.
The National Guard is on the streets per the order of Governor Hogan.