Baltimore, MD – A Baltimore Police Department (BPD) lieutenant appeased a mob of protesters on Saturday by reading aloud a list of names of people who the group deemed had died due to police brutality.
Protesters had been marching throughout the city for hours chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” before they converged on Baltimore Police headquarters on East Fayette Street, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The situation grew tense as the demonstrators squared off with a line of BPD officers outside the building.
Video clips of the scene showed protesters crowding the officers and yelling at them.
“It is our duty and privilege to serve the people to allow them to protest and the only thing we ask is that they do it peacefully and they have done that,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison later told WBAL.
As the encounter between the officers and the demonstrators ensued, BPD Lieutenant Peter Heron stepped forward and began reading off a list of names at the behest of the boisterous crowd.
“Oscar Grant. Keith Scott. Terrell Thomas. Randy Evans. Clifford Glover. Tamir Rice. Yvonne Smallwood. Tanisha Anderson,” Lt. Heron said, pausing between each one while protesters yelled out “next name!”
After complying with the group’s directive, Lt. Heron urged them to be safe and the demonstrators continued their march to another area, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Although the demonstrators deemed the names on the list to be victims of police brutality, it is unclear whether or not BPD agreed with this labeling.
The cause of death of people on the list range from actual cases of excessive force to death caused by medical conditions. But one of the names is of a man who confronted officers with a gun.
Keith Scott, 43, was fatally shot by police in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2016, was holding a cocked Colt .380 semiautomatic in his hand and refused to drop it during the standoff with police, The New York Times reported.
Police ordered Scott to drop his gun at least 12 times in 38 seconds. CNN later aired a video of the shooting which edited out the officers ordering Scott to drop his gun.
Investigators later determined that the weapon had been stolen from a residence and that Scott had purchased it illegally.
The officer’s use of deadly force was determined to be justified.
Commissioner Harrison said that only 14 people were arrested for burglary and destruction of property in connection with mass protests over the weekend, WBAL reported.
“Only when it got dark and the protesters left a few people, agitators, probably less than 100 then it got to be about 50 or less, began to just taunt the police and do things,” Commissioner Harrison said.
Commissioner Harrison praised his officers, who he said did a “remarkable job of exercising restraint and professionalism and tolerance and acceptance,” WBAL reported.
He specifically commended Lt. Heron, crediting him for defusing the confrontation outside the BPD headquarters.
“If anyone needs proof that this department is changing, they only need to look right there at that,” he said of Lt. Heron’s action. “That’s a cultural shift in the department where a member of our department exercised empathy and empathized with a protesting crowd…And to even go beyond, to deescalate people. If you think about it, that can be very, very intimidating, a few police officers with hundreds of people taunting you, in your face.”
Commissioner Harrison said that the lieutenant’s gesture “does not mean we are becoming weak” as a department.
“It means we are becoming compassionate and empathetic, which means people will be more inclined to help us to provide information to us because nobody wants you to know how much they know until they first know how much you care,” he said.
The rioting comes after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of 46-year-old George Floyd.
Officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.
Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.
After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension four days after the incident and held on a $500,000 bond, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced, according to WCCO.
According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The charging documents state, “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below: