'May Day for Freddie Gray': Protesters in NYC Again Show Solidarity with Baltimore

News & Politics

Labor and anti-police brutality activists merged efforts in New York City on Friday, rallying under the united banner, “May Day for Freddie Gray.” Although media estimates placed the crowd size at around 1,000, the mass seemed to swell to far greater numbers as demonstrators moved through the streets. Hours after the announcement that criminal charges would be filed against the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s arrest, transport and death, AlterNet spoke with some of the protesters to learn why they had taken to the streets. 


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Fritz: I’m here to be a part of history. I’m here to try to make a difference. And I’m here because I’ve had enough. I’m tired of watching this shit on the news, reading about it in the paper. I’m tired of just being a bystander. If you’re a New Yorker—not even a New Yorker—if you’re a human being that believes in equality and justice for everybody, it doesn’t matter what color you are [or] where you’re from: fair is fair. And if you believe in that, in all honesty, you should be here. Because this is ridiculous. A little while ago, it seemed like every month [someone was killed by the police]. Now it seems like every two weeks. And enough is enough. 

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Deni: Actually, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I march in the Bay Area constantly as part of protesting racist police violence. I’m a retired school teacher. We would teach kids in the school about justice and then this goes on on the streets. And it’s got to stop. It’s interesting: [the charges against the cops] would never have happened if people weren’t out on the streets. So people have to put the pressure on. The system is not going to change without the pressure being put on. Whether this is going to amount to anything, we’ll see. But it’s certainly not gonna happen without people out in the streets.

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Mia: I think [the criminal charges against police] is amazing and of course it took a sistah to do it, so holla! Again, black women are standing up. Black women led the Black Lives Matter movement and now we’re leading in Baltimore. I think it’s very brave on [Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby's] part. I hope she watches her back. But there's still more to be done. Ultimately, for me, it’s not about if cops love us or if we all come together and hold hands. It’s really about people being held accountable for their jobs. Everyone else has to be held accountable for their jobs, and so do you. In the big picture, it allows people to know they have a voice. Because without the "riots,” and protests in Baltimore, those [criminal charges] would never have happened. So that was the work of the people. I hope they know that, and I hope they take pride in that. People feel like they can’t fight back. What Ferguson showed us, what Baltimore showed us, what they’re now doing in Detroit, what they’re now doing in Chicago, is that people do have voice. You can start on the local level and it can grow from there.

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Darrett: We’re trying to fight for Freddie Gray and for all the other people who've lost their lives to police brutality. And we’re fighting for everybody’s life—not just black lives and brown lives, everybody’s life matters. The militarization of the police force is no good. It’s only making money for the system in power and making the elite richer while we get poorer. We’re dying because of their greed. We need to stop this, disarm the police and give people back their rights.

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Sharon: I’m here because it was May Day and May Day is traditionally a day of solidarity for workers. And also, we’re incorporating the justice for Freddie Gray, Black Lives Matter [and] Fight for 15 movements. All the things that are going on now. The workers now have the eight-hour day, but they don’t make a living wage. And police violence against black men is out of control. There was Ferguson and Baltimore, they’re saying it’s riots. It’s not thugs and criminals who are rioting. It’s people who are angry that someone can get into a police van and wind up at the police station dead. It has to end. And we’re here for all of those reasons and to show solidarity.

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