As the National Guard continues to enforce a 10 p.m. curfew in Baltimore, protesters in New York City are calling for a demonstration tonight at 6 p.m. in Union Square to demand "justice for Freddie Gray and Black lives across the country."
Tonight's protest is being organized by Millions March NYC, the same group behind the Millions March that drew roughly 60,000 people to the streets of Manhattan in mid-December to protest the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury decisions.
Freddie Gray, Jr. was stopped by police in West Baltimore on April 12. Police say they detained him after finding a switchblade, and placed him into the back of their van. While in police custody, Gray's spine was severed, and he died seven days later.
Six Baltimore police officers have been suspended pending the results of an investigation. Gray's funeral on Monday prompted civil unrest in West Baltimore. Reporters from the national media descended on the town by the trainload.
"The media will continue to paint the people of Baltimore as rioters and looters but people forget that the City and Police of Baltimore loot and destroy Black and Brown communities of Baltimore every day of the year," states a release for today's protests.
Some protesters who were arrested during the demonstrations in New York City last November and December were subjected to an intense form of interrogation by the NYPD that may have been illegal.
After the NYPD was found to have been illegally monitoring the political activities of New Yorkers in the 1960s and '70s, a federal judge placed strict guidelines on how the police could retain information on political speech, allowing it only if it directly relates to terrorist or criminal activity.
After 9/11, the NYPD repeatedly crossed these boundaries, especially with respect to their widespread Muslim surveillance program that generated zero leads and was deemed by the FBI as too odious to be involved with.
Now, the New York Times reports that protesters arrested during Black Lives Matter demonstrations are being asked about their political activities, amounting to what one prominent civil rights attorney calls "an infringement of the right to be free from government interference in your political activities.”
Frank Roberts, who teaches at New York University, said he was asked what he was doing when he was arrested and whether he had attended meetings with other protesters. An elementary school teacher, Sherlly Pierre, said she was asked why she had participated in the demonstrations. A Baptist minister, Willa Rose Johnson, said she was asked about past protests. Benjamin Perry, a student at the Union Theological Seminary, said detectives asked whether classmates had attended demonstrations. Another seminary student, Shawn Torres, said detectives asked who was in charge of a student listserv discussing the protests and how to receive email messages from it.
Ms. Pierre, 28, from Harlem, said detectives also asked if she had helped organize the Dec. 3 protests and wanted to know when and where the next demonstrations would take place.
“What we were being asked had nothing to do with what we were being charged with,” she said. “It was like they were trying to find out where their problem was coming from so they could stifle it.”
The NYPD maintained to the Times that their questioning was lawful.
The forecast for New York City at 6 p.m. shows a temperature of 71 degrees.
"If you wanna make change, keep things peaceful." -@BilldeBlasio to protesters planning nyc demo today
— Erin Durkin (@erinmdurkin) April 29, 2015