One activists in Baltimore has been arrested amid a night of protests after Officer William Porter’s trial was declared a mistrial. Porter was one of six officers charged with regards the death of Freddie Gray. The protester is Melvin Townes, 16. In a video that featured Townes on the day of his arrest, he said “I just came out here to get piece of mind.”
On December 16, Porter’s case fell apart in Baltimore after jurors became deadlocked. Freddie Gray died on April 19, 2015, after falling into a coma following a ride in a police van on April 12. He had been arrested for possession of what police claimed was a switchblade.
This is a breaking story so stay tuned for updates.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. He Was ‘Knocked Down’ by Police Officers Before Being Arrested
Guardian reporter Baynard Woods tweeted that he saw Townes get arrested, near the city courthouse. Woods wrote: “Earlier police knocked down and took away 16 year old Melvin Townes. I talked to him last night.” On December 3, he was asked about why he was protesting by the National Journal to which he replied:
I came down yesterday. I was sick of watching everything on the news and I wanted to come see everything for myself. I don’t know if [Porter] will be found guilty.
As a cop, you’re supposed to make sure prisoners are okay. There is a lot of racial profiling here in Baltimore, and a lot of racial tension going on with the police.
Racism lives here. The police always call us the N word. A life was taken here and they should be responsible for that. I don’t know how it will go, but I think they found a fair jury.
2. A Group of Protesters Are Outside Baltimore’s Juvenile Hall Despite Being Told That Townes Isn’t There
A group of protesters went to Baltimore’s juvenile detention center shortly after the arrest, reports the Baltimore Sun’s Pamela Wood. Fellow activist Tariq Toure tweeted that Townes was arrested along with prominent protester Kwame Rose.
The Sun’s Sarah Meehan later reported that protesters remained at the juvenile center, despite being told that Townes wasn’t there.
3. He’s a Native of West Baltimore, the Epicenter of the Freddie Gray Riots
During the initial Freddie Gray protests in April 2015, Mashable’s Colin Daileda met Townes. The teen activist said that Baltimore police stop his black guys his age and ask about drugs and guns or sometimes ‘F**k you up a little.” He’s a resident of west Baltimore, the epicenter of the Freddie Gray rioting in 2015. On December 8, Townes told CBS Baltimore that despite the trials of the officers in question: “Ain’t nothing really changed.” He added that he was there during the initial riots “I was there. I was on Penn North.” The Baltimore Sun reports that Townes is a 10th grader at Reginald F. Lewis.
4. This Arrest Harks Back to the Controversial Apprehension of Joseph Kent in April 2015
Townes’ arrest will bring back memories of the arrest of Freddie Gray protester Joseph Kent. He was taken into custody by members of the National Guard in an apprehension that was recorded live on CNN in April 2015. In the clip you can see Kent walking across a street with his hands up. Soon an armored hum-vee drives towards him. When it’s in front of him, CNN cameras show a group of National Guard troops surrounding Kent and throwing him in.
5. Officer Porter Is the First of the Freddie Gray Cops to Go on Trial
Despite his mistrial, Porter told the Baltimore Sun that “it’s not over.” Porter was the first of six officers to be tried in the death of Freddie Gray. The trial lasted 11 days, with closing arguments held on Monday. The 12-member jury, made up of four black women, three black men, three white women and two white men, deliberated for more than three days.
Porter, who is black, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. The jury was hung on all charges.
Five other officers – Caesar Goodson, Garret Miller, Edward Nero, Brian Rice and Alicia White – were also charged in Gray’s death. They are all being tried separately.
After Townes arrest, the Baltimore police department confirmed that a “male suspect” had been shot earlier that night. That victim’s identity was not revealed but he is expected to survive, reports the Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Rector.
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