Jessica Anderson and Phillip Jackson
The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Police are reviewing video footage but have made no arrests after the police officers’ union building was vandalized by demonstrators Saturday night.
“We’re still looking at footage to identify the individuals,” involved in the vandalism, police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said Monday. She said she did not have information about whether police were looking at a specific group as being responsible.
The Hampden event was advertised on social media as a sit-in to show solidarity with protesters in Portland, Oregon, where federal agents fired tear gas to break up recent protests. A group called the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front has been identified as promoting rallies and other demonstrations in Portland.
On April 3, the Pacific Northwest group posted a message on the website of a group called the Maryland Youth Liberation Front, saying: “Give our new Maryland chapter a follow on Twitter and Instagram @marylandYLF.”
There is no indication the Maryland group had any connection to the vandalism at FOP headquarters, but the group did send out a Twitter “thank you” Sunday after a local television station mentioned the group in a post about the incident.
The local activist group Bmore Bloc promoted Saturday’s demonstration in Baltimore on social media and has organized similar events in recent weeks. A message to the group was not returned Monday.
During the protest, the crowd of nearly 100 marchers chanted “Black Lives Matter” and shouted the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two Black people killed by police this year, with their deaths becoming a rallying cry and impetus for protests across the nation.
“This was an attack on not only our building but also on the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department, both active and retired.”
Police Union President Mike Mancuso
The marchers made their way to the Baltimore Police FOP Lodge on Buena Vista Avenue, where some in the crowd spray-painted messages outside the building that read “Defund BPD.” An American flag was burned during the demonstration.
Officers blocked protesters’ access to the FOP building parking lot when they arrived and a Baltimore police helicopter hovered above demonstrators for nearly 40 minutes. The crowd eventually dispersed before the Maryland State Police arrived.
Police union President Mike Mancuso described the people who tagged the headquarters as “anarchists” and “losers.”
“This was an attack on not only our building but also on the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department, both active and retired,” Mancuso wrote.
Mancuso did not respond to an additional request for comment Monday. But Mancuso said on Twitter that the damage had been cleaned up, and thanked some residents who helped.
“Their support of FOP #3 and the BPD is very humbling and gratifying,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mancuso had also complained about Police Commissioner Michael Harrison’s lack of outreach to the union immediately after the protest. He noted that Harrison met with a group of protesters outside City Hall during the days of demonstrations in response to Floyd’s death last month.
“But when it comes to supporting the working members of the BPD, he’s a complete no show,” Mancuso said.
Harrison said in a statement over the weekend that the department supports the right to protest but not to vandalize.
“There is an active and ongoing investigation into this act of vandalism and destruction of property,” Harrison said in a statement. “While we will continue to engage with our communities to create and repair community-police relations and protect the First Amendment rights of our residents, we will absolutely not tolerate acts of vandalism and will hold these offenders accountable.”
©2020 The Baltimore Sun
Visit The Baltimore Sun at www.baltimoresun.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.