Hovering in the sky in helicopters, clopping along the street on horses and massing by the dozens on the sidewalk outside a barricaded City Hall, Baltimore police were braced yesterday for hordes of people angry about the Trayvon Martin case.
Instead they got about 40 orderly demonstrators.
The protest the police apparently were braced for was the one that had already happened and caught them by surprise – the demonstration on Mar. 26th by more than a thousand people who briefly shut down city streets and swarmed over technically-off-limits steps and balconies at City Hall.
Yesterday’s marchers, coming from the site of a proposed youth jail, chanted “No justice? No peace!”, carried signs saying “We are all Trayvon Martin!” and listened to brief remarks by the Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon and others.
Florida officials have not charged neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed African-American teen in a gated community in Florida in February. Florida officials say Zimmerman told police he shot Martin because the teen had attacked him.
Yesterday, in Baltimore, police equipped with plastic handcuffs stood at the ready inside the perimeter they had created with metal barricades. With demonstrators remaining outside the barriers in War Memorial Plaza, there was little to occupy the media and other spectators who had assembled there.
Citizen activist Kim Trueheart, for instance, chatted with Duane G. “Shorty” Davis Sr., the Baltimore man arrested and cleared of “fake destructive device” charges in connection with the toilet he left outside the Towson courthouse last year.
(Davis’ public defender had told the jury that Davis leaves many such toilets, covered with documents and objects, around the region as a political and personal statement.)
Demonstrators, for their part, used the time to discuss and promote their next steps.
Members of Justice for Trayvon Martin said they plan to gather downtown again when Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announces whether Zimmerman will be charged.
They also promoted plans to march to an April 22 demonstration in front of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington over handling of the Martin shooting.