There was a moment at Saturday’s protests—two weeks after the police severed the spine of Freddie Gray—when police revealed themselves. I was there and can tell you that for most of the day it was stunning how light the police presence appeared to be. They made the choice to turn the West Baltimore police station, whose officers arrested Freddie Gray, into an armed encampment, while giving the streets over to the march. Yes, helicopters and surveillance drones flew overhead but police were largely absent. For me, this was not comforting. The only other times I have seen these kinds of police tactics at a demonstration was in Latin America and South Africa where the appearance of no police would be given, but then you would turn a corner and they would appear, seemingly out of a vapor of tear gas.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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