Videos Show Baltimore Cops Placing Black Neighborhood in "Greater Confinement" During Week Long "Emergency:" Movement Restrictions, Warrantless Searches, ID-Checks & Interrogations of "Citizens"

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Just Doing My Job Slave. After a black cop was killed [apparently by another Baltimore cop], the City turned Harlem Park into a crime scene and the entire neighborhood was cordoned off. For a week, mostly Black residents and persons entering or leaving the area were subject to interrogations, unlawful seizures, stops, pat down searches, ID checks and non-residents were barred from entering the area. Residents have said they were being required to show identification to get past the police tape to enter their homes. They complained about helicopters flying above their homes, flashing lights from police cars, and being subject to harassment [MORE]

4th Amendment is a Joke for the Powerless. From [HERE] and [HERE] Police body-camera footage from the days after Detective Sean Suiter was shot to death in West Baltimore shows residents of Harlem Park living under police watch — with officers stopping everyone entering the neighborhood and residents having to show identification as they tried to get to and from their homes. The detective was shot the day before he was to give testimony before a federal grand jury investigating Baltimore’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. Suiter was not a target of that investigation, police have said. [MORE

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said the videos, which the Baltimore Police Department provided last week in response to independent Public Information Act requests by The Baltimore Sun and the ACLU, showed a disregard for residents’ constitutional rights at the highest levels of the department. 

“What I see in the videos is the people of Harlem Park living in a police state where walking out of their house subjects them to a warrantless stop by a police officer asking them for ID,” said David Rocah, the Maryland ACLU’s senior staff attorney. “None of that, in my view, is legal. None of that, in my view, is what is supposed to happen in the United States.”

In one video taken two days after Suiter was shot in mid-November, a man is stopped on the street about 1:40 a.m. by an officer who tells him he can’t go home without first providing a photo ID.

“In order for you to be able to walk down here, we have to be able to ID you,” the officer says.

The man tells the officer that all his identification has been stolen, except for his birth certificate, which is in his house. He says he hasn’t been home since the day before, and that he has a dog in his house “that hasn’t been out in 24 hours.”

The officer apologizes, but still prevents him from passing.

In another video from that afternoon, a 66-year-old man tells an officer he needs to catch a bus and is escorted by an officer out of a cordoned-off street.

“How you doing this morning?” the officer asks.

“I’m doing all right,” the man responds. “My wife is having a fit. I retired two years ago, right? Paid the house off, figured I’d be all right. Now she wants to move, because she says it’s just too terrible around here.”

“Hopefully, sir, it’ll get better,” the officer replies.

The police department released a few dozen videos to The Sun and the ACLU of Maryland, and called them “only a partial production” of the broader collection of footage requested. The department is expected to release additional videos as its review of footage continues. It did not give a time frame for future releases.

Police have said it was necessary to cordon off the neighborhood in the days after Suiter’s death to ensure the safety of the community, preserve the crime scene, and pursue leads in the earliest stages of the investigation. The neighborhood was shut off for five days.

Suiter’s killing remains unsolved.

The ACLU said it made its request for the body-camera footage after receiving “many questions” about the department’s “unprecedented” presence in the neighborhood.

“The publicly stated rationale for the cordon, the need to preserve a crime scene, seems inconsistent with both the scope and duration of the cordon, and with the other police actions that were taken, such as searches, demanding identification, and barring non-residents,” the ACLU said at the time.

Rocah said the videos confirmed residents’ accounts of their rights’ being violated — and not by individual rogue officers, but by those politely following directives from commanders. [white folks always need proof]

“What this shows is that despite all of these official claims about a commitment to reform … the Baltimore Police Department at its highest levels treats the people of Baltimore like they don’t matter at all, or at least treats the people of poor black Baltimore, to be more specific, like they don’t matter at all,” Rocah said. “A police state enforced by polite police officers is no less a police state.”

The ACLU and the Sun separately requested videos of street interactions with pedestrians and motorists, and of searches of occupied homes within the area that was cordoned off. The videos released last week captured only street interactions.

Residents are stopped on the street and asked questions. They are required to show identification to get to their homes. Sometimes they are prevented from getting home, ask when the lockdown will be lifted and are given vague answers. The officers watch residents performing mundane tasks, such as taking their dogs outside to relieve themselves.

Most of the residents are cordial [OBEDIENT] with the officers. Several express condolences for Suiter’s death.

“We understand y’all got a job to do,” the 66-year-old man says in another recorded interaction. “Y’all trying to get as much information so you can get this thing settled.”

Other residents express frustration with the police.

A woman walks through the neighborhood the night after Suiter was shot. An officer asks for her name and address. She responds with questions of her own.

“Everybody who’s trying to get home, you did this to?” she asks.

The officer says everyone who walks through the area is being stopped.

“I’m just trying to do my job. I’m not trying to be … ” the officer begins.

“And I’m just trying to get to my house,” the woman says. “My house, where I live at.”