Written by Staff Writer.
Today, CNN released the results of a study it commissioned into the 2015 civil rights protests that took place across Baltimore. The investigation found that the patterns of abuse and violations of protesters’ constitutional rights during the protests are very similar to those experienced during the “Baltimore Uprising,” the uprising and subsequent riots following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The report, entitled “Violence in Baltimore: Seeking Justice for Human Rights Under the Obama Administration,” states that “for nearly two years, the failure of the police to follow or enforce agreed-upon regulations, or even take certain actions necessary to protect public safety, violated protestors’ constitutional rights.”
The report notes:
“Data collected after our initial investigation demonstrates that the Baltimore Police Department (BPD)’s apparent disregard for rules and law were a persistent, foundational factor in the escalation of violence that evening. These patterns mirror those found during the 2015 uprising, namely, the inability of the BPD to adhere to written rules of engagement and a refusal to recognize officers’ obligations under state and federal law.”
CNN commissioned a second, more comprehensive study of the protest, conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago’s Program on Extremism. In it, the researchers highlighted the tactics that police use against protesters, including the aggressive arrests and use of tear gas and bean bags. The report outlines five key changes necessary to ensure the safety of the community and to restore a sense of democratic rights:
Restore police accountability and public trust by issuing meaningful discipline and increased oversight to those most responsible for the unconstitutional violence. Eliminate excessive force from police training, investigation, and disciplinary practices. Institutionalize a demand for transparency throughout police responses to protests. Allow citizens to be the ones to initiate the requests for and conduct of police investigations by creating an independent civilian investigative panel. Ensure police intervention at protest sites is proportionate and reasonable and conducted with the least amount of force required.
These findings are the latest to be revealed by CNN, the city of Baltimore, and other governmental and civic entities over the past year. The Baltimore Uprising was the catalyst of the high-profile protests that took place in dozens of U.S. cities, and carried over to the anti-Trump marches held throughout the country last month.