Police in Baltimore, Maryland arrested 65 people who were protesting the fatal shootings of Black people by police in what is being described as a systematic crackdown on Black Lives Matter protests by law-enforcement agencies throughout the United States.
The arrests came after demonstrators briefly blocked a highway near the city's downtown. The protest tactic has become an increasingly common form for protesters to have their voices heard.
Police said that those arrested will be charged with failure to obey and illegally walking on a highway.
However, protest organizer David Blair told the Baltimore Sun that they complied with police commands.
According the Blair, police lied and said an ambulance needed to pass but instead two police vans full of officers arrived and began making arrests.
Cities throughout the country have been witness to a wave of demonstrations against police brutality that have swept the country in the past weeks after the killing of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police.
Black Lives Matter supporters accuse police and federal agencies of using the shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas, Texas as a pretext to criminalize and repress the movement.
“The federal agencies that are carrying out fear-mongering and circulating exaggerated and concocted reports about Black Lives Matter free speech actions are effectively giving a green light for local law enforcement to sweep protests off the streets,” wrote Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional rights litigator, in an article for Alternet.
The Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday again law-enforcement authorities in Baton Rouge for last week's arrests of as many as 160 demonstrators.
the ACLU asserts that police physically and verbally assaulted protesters, and wrongfully arrested demonstrators who had assembled peacefully.
The Baltimore protest took place as the city awaits a decision in the trial of a police officer charged in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, which then triggered what came to be known as the Baltimore Uprising. No officer has yet to be convicted in the death of Grey.
Baltimore police said they received a warning from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday that local gangs intended to target police.
However, police raised similar fears during last year's Baltimore Uprising that were later proved to be unfounded.
Elsewhere in the United States, rival gangs have instead united in protest against police brutality.
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