Protest held in St. Pete over the death of Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray by Giulia
Professor of Physical Chemistry Steven Shipman in attendance at the protest alongside students Ijeoma Uzoukwu, Yara Rincon, Brianna Nieves, and Haiwen Yu.

Yet another instance of police brutality, this time in Baltimore, has resulted in the death of a young, black male and brought the issue of race relations in America to the forefront. Following protests in major cities including Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) organized a protest that took place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday, May 1. In an attempt to avoid the riots taking place in their hometown, the Baltimore Orioles had chosen the location to play against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Attendees to the baseball game were greeted by a rally of protesters outside the stadium. The protesters waved signs with slogans such as “Orioles Strike For Freddie Gray!” and “No Justice, No Peace, No Matter the City!” InPDUM member, Gaida Kambon, led the group as it marched in front of the stadium, shouting powerful chants such as “No Justice, No Peace!”

“We are here today to express our support for the courageous black community of Baltimore and to reiterate our demand for Black Community Control of Police as the only real solution to end the police violence terrorizing our people,” InPDUM said in an official press statement. “The vicious police torture and murder of Freddie Gray by the Baltimore police is not unusual. It happens to young African people every day throughout the U.S. and in every country where we are located because we exist as a colonized people. We will not rest until the killing of African people by police stops everywhere.”

On April 12, Freddie Gray was arrested by police officers who reportedly “made eye contact” with the 25-year old, and proceeded to chase him after he ran away. Gray was handcuffed behind his back for possession of a knife, which is illegal in the state of Maryland. Police ignored Gray’s request for an inhaler, shackled his ankles, and neglected to put a seatbelt on him after placing him in a police truck. Gray was said to have screamed that he was going to harm himself, but his cries were also ignored. By the time the officers had arrived at the Western District Police Station, Gray had stopped breathing.

Donta Allen, another passenger who was picked up along the way, claims that Gray was not screaming or behaving in an aggressive manner. “The only thing that I heard was a little banging, like he, I thought he was banging – someone was over there banging their head or something,” Allen told CNN.

A week after his arrest, a comatose Gray passed away. On May 1, six police officers were charged with misconduct and second-degree assault. Three of the officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The demonstration at Tropicana Field was the first of several events scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg. A solidarity rally and speak-out were held at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park the day after the protest.

“It’s the only way of true rebellion,” first-year Brianna Nieves, who attended the protest, said. “It’s the only way to show how you feel and since we live in America, we really can [protest]. I just had a really eye opening experience and realized that this affects people more than I thought it would. I got to see a lot of human faces.”

More information on InPDUM and how individuals can get involved can be found on their website: uhurunews.com

Information for this article taken from cnn.com and touch.orlandosentinel.com.

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