Carrying signs that read “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” and chanting “No justice, no peace,” a group of about 50 people marched through downtown Baton Rouge Saturday evening in solidarity with Baltimore.
Freddie Gray, 25, died after he was arrested and put into a police van for transport. After the van made several stops, Gray was found to have suffered a spinal injury and died a week later. Six police officers have been charged with crimes in the wake of his death.
Blair Brown, 21, an LSU student and one of the organizers of Saturday’s march in Baton Rouge said the event was to get conversations started about the continuing killing of unarmed black men around the country.
“There was a demonstration on campus, and I heard a child ask, “What’s this?” and that’s a new conversation,” Brown said.
Before the march began, Victor White Sr. talked about his 22-year-old son Victor White III, who died more than a year ago while in police custody. White was shot in the side of his chest and killed while he was handcuffed in the pack of an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office vehicle. The Iberia Parish coroner ruled the death a suicide. State Police and FBI have open investigations into the incident.
“Someone needs to be held accountable,” White Sr. said Saturday evening.
Brown told the small crowd, “This is trauma to our community. This happens too frequently.”
James South, 32, a pastor, added, “We stand up because we’ve had enough. We’ve had enough on the news of unarmed black men being killed.”
Brown said a group on campus has been organizing small demonstrations and vigils to raise awareness. There is still a need for that type of dialogue, she said.
She said she was carrying a sign showing a 1960 photo of demonstrators wearing placards that read “I Am a Man” that she also carried during a demonstration on campus.
“I got called the N-word on the bus holding (that) sign, and that’s why we need this,” Brown said, indicating the marchers ahead of her.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.