Baltimore Police Forced Students Off Buses and Likely Violated Their 4Th Amendment Rights

Baltimore Riot Police
It is natural for animals, even highly-domesticated animals, to reach a point that they will lash out aggressively after being confined and abused. It is no different for human beings; even if they are not the direct target of abuse. Obviously people who have never been routinely targeted for abuse can say there is never an excuse for violence, especially against the authorities. However,  these are generally the same people who revere and praise so-called patriots for their acts of violence against England at the nation’s founding. For people of color who have either experienced or witnessed increasing law enforcement violence with impunity, it may seem like there is no recourse but to resort to violence; particularly if they are deliberately herded into an area and confined with the prospect of assault from riot-clad law enforcement.

After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s funeral last week, conservative media reported the violence as a riot triggered by young thugs who spent the day looking for a reason to attack poor beleaguered, and entirely innocent, law enforcement. However, if mainstream media had reported what several school teachers and students’ parents saw with their own eyes, the public would be aware that police inflamed the situation and in fact, deliberately herded young people into a crowd they could use their riot gear against. To make matters worse, police likely violated many of the so-called rioters’ constitutional rights.

By the time schools released students at about 3:00 p.m. on the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral, police in riot gear had been assembled since about noon waiting for trouble. Several eyewitnesses in the Mondawmin neighborhood, including Frederick Douglass High School teachers and parents arriving to pick up their children from school, reported the riot police were stopping buses and forcing riders, including students who were trying to exit the area and get home, to disembark. The police also blockaded and shutdown roads in and around the Mondawmin Mall and Douglass High School which is across the street from the mall. Why?  To herd the young people, and corral them, into an area directly across from where riot police were gathered to prevent the after-school crowd from dispersing and flee the area.

A teacher at a school near the Mondawmin Mall and Frederick Douglass High School, Meghann Harris, described a scene that was corroborated by Douglass High teachers and parents. Harris reported that “police were forcing buses to stop and unload all their passengers. Then, Frederick Douglass High School students, in huge herds, were trying to leave on various buses but couldn’t catch any because they were all shut down. No kids were yet around except about 20, who were just standing around. The cops, on the other hand, were in full riot gear, marching toward any small social clique of students. It looked as if there were hundreds of cops.”

One Douglass High School teacher, who was afraid to reveal their identity, shared a common story saying that “When school was winding down, many students were leaving early with their parents or of their own accord. Those who didn’t depart early were stranded. Many of the students still at school at that point wanted to get out of the area and avoid any violence. Some were requesting rides home from teachers. But by then, it was difficult to leave the neighborhood. I rode with another teacher home and we had to route our travel around the police in riot gear blocking the roads.”

One parent who picked up his children from a nearby school said that the kids who were stranded “across from the police were asking them ‘why can’t we get on the buses.’ The majority of those kids aren’t from around that neighborhood and they NEED those buses and trains in order to get home. If they (riot police) would’ve let the children go home, yesterday wouldn’t have even turned out like that.”

Yet another Baltimore teacher who was unafraid of revealing her identity, one Meg Gibson, described the same situation; “The riot police were already at the bus stop on the other side of the mall turning buses that transport the students away, not allowing students to board. They were waiting for the kids. Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown. With police unloading buses, and with the nearby metro station shut down, there were few ways for students to clear out.”

Now, according to a Supreme Court case there is something referred to as a “Terry stop” that allows law enforcement to briefly detain a person on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity, but short of probable cause to arrest. By all accounts, any law enforcement traffic stop is, for practical purposes, a Terry stop, and for the duration of a stop the driver and passengers are “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Under federal law, drivers and passengers may be ordered out of the vehicle without additional justification by the officer(s), but they are supposed to be allowed to leave after police are satisfied there is no involvement in criminal activity or probable cause for an arrest.

It is beyond reason, except for the purpose of creating a mob, that Baltimore riot police had any ‘reasonable suspicion’ that high school students already on buses attempting to leave school to go home were involved in any criminal activity. Unless, of course, “sitting on the bus while Black” is legitimately reasonable suspicion of criminal activity; it obviously is in Baltimore. Particularly when riot-clad police were assembled three hours prior to the end of school waiting for a crowd to materialize to incite violence by keeping students ‘corralled’ in a confined mall area. In fact, by stopping the buses and forcing the riders, whether they were students, young people, or adults to disembark, thus “seizing their persons” according to the 4th Amendment, the Baltimore police apparently violated the riders’ Constitutional rights.

Police may have had a reason to anticipate protests after Freddie Gray’s funeral, especially after investigators found their comrades-in-blue allegedly committed ‘depraved heart murder.’ However, they had no justification for stopping buses and forcing students to disembark to be ‘herded‘ into a confined area, or disallowing them to flee the area because all buses and trains were shut down by police. But this is 21st Century America and the concept of ‘reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity is whatever the people with badges, guns, and riot gear say it is; regardless of the Constitution or state legal statutes.

Hopefully, parents of the students forced off buses, illegally seized according to the 4th Amendment, and corralled across from a phalanx of well-armed riot police are seeking legal counsel for a class-action suit against Baltimore police. It is no stretch that their children’s civil rights were violated when they were forced off the bus and prohibited from fleeing for home to avoid riot-clad police looking for trouble, and not finding it created a mob they could attack.

25 Replies to “Baltimore Police Forced Students Off Buses and Likely Violated Their 4Th Amendment Rights”

  1. Sounds like the “kettles” the Nazis used to create so they could load people for the extermination camps.

    This century is a mistake.

  2. Where Do We Go From Here, 1967

    2. “I contend that the cry of “Black Power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

  3. Clearly racist and classist intent to abuse. What malicious planning!! See how it is that the systematic criminalization of the poor and homeless proceeds. George Bush is still getting away. We costed this out; it is actually cheaper to house, feed, and care for people, than not to do so. If higher education is priced out of reach of the majority, forget about anyone getting a good paying job. Lyle Courtsal

  4. Also seems like a pretty clear cut case of police reckless endangerment of children by not allowing them to leave the area. Too bad any settlement won’t come directly out of the officer’s pay…

  5. They HAD to have a reason to try out those new toys like pepper spray, flash bangs, armored vehicles, riot gear. Just blatant proof of preying on black young people, as usual. So pathetically systemic.

  6. This is outrageous. No one should do anything that endangers children and teachers. The people who run Baltimore are imbeciles. Instead of trying to prevent rioting they just made things worse.

  7. A friend who lives in the Baltimore area posted, and had fallen for MSM’s narrative, about the HS kids who got out of control.

    When I saw the initial reports from teachers, that the cops created the powder-keg themselves, I shared that on her post.

    Not one word in reply. I guess it didn’t fit with what she wanted to believe

  8. Rmuse literally just said that violence against the police is justified in America. Everyone’s cool with this I guess?

  9. Baltimore has been run by Democrats for 50 years. Any decisions made that day were made by Democrats.

    the Disenfranchised are the result of Democratic policies.

    Millions of dollars has been poured into Baltimore and a corrupt Gov’t has squandered it with little positive results.

    All riots have been in cities run by Democrats who let these people trash legitimate businesses.

    Its time for a change!!!!

  10. Wow, that koolaid must be mighty tasty. “Those people” are likewise demanding a “change”. “Those people” aren’t interested in whether a Dem or Repub is in elected office. Do you know why?

  11. Blur Dog Democrats! Like Shelby Republicans, when they get moved, they show their true colors! Hattiesburg got rid of a lot of those ” democrats” all of them switched parties as they were being escorted out of the door complete with KOCH PACs! Time For Baltimore to make that Move!

  12. The Democrats didn’t send every damn job around to India and China and then come back and sell the products back to the country you raped in the first place. I do not agree with violence or attacking police, but put yourself in someone’s shoes who has no job, no job to apply for and no hope for the future. I can’t say that if that were me, that I wouldn’t be just a little damn angry. I am not in great financial shape now, but I at least have a job and a roof over my head. Try and at least see it from another point of view. We need police, good police and policies that protect us all. We also need jobs, security and hope.

  13. @david, OMG! if you talk to ONE republican it’s like you’ve talked to ALL of them! do you RIGHTIES EVER have an original THOUGHT?? you RIGHTIES NEVER research ANYTHING! you NEVER use COMMON sense! YOUR GOP MASSA’s give you your talked points and away you go, ONE of the major differences between democrats and republicans is that LIBERALS at least TRY to be unbias, TRY to be thinkers, baltimore isn’t much different than most american cities, it’s being destroyed by corporations who have BOUGHT out your beloved GOP and quite a bit of the democratic party! now @david, how many RIGHTIES will admit that TRUTH?? NONE!! because YOUR GOP has captured you with GUNS- god- abortion and the black man in the WHITEHOUSE!! @david WAKE UP! NOW tell everybody how BLACK people are being used by the democratic party! or how the democratic party is started the KLU KLUX KLAN (WHICH IS TRUE) but that was 150 YEARS AGO! hey @david, it’s NOT the democratic party who looks like the KKK, it’s YOUR….

  14. I hope the federal government will start an investigation into the Baltimore police department and perhaps beyond.

    No one’s Constitutional Rights should be violated. Time for some heads to roll.

  15. To Erica:

    Can you say for sure that members of the police dept. from the cop on the beat to the highest potions on the force are not gop?

  16. Erica, you are not from Baltimore are you? If you were you would know that it isn’t about Democrat vs Republican ideology. The police of Baltimore for too many years have disengaged themselves from the Communities they are to protect and serve. Its all about law enforcement and getting the criminals off the street. They have forgotten how to keep crimes from happening, forgot how to talk to the people they are suppose to protect. They see criminals around every corner. That has nothing to do with political parties. But, it sure makes the Ultra-conservative loons froth and pound their chests about how the police are only doing the job.

    That part should be the last part – the first part is preventing problems from arising not contributing and helping problems to occur.

  17. I grew up in Baltimore. I grew up in a Baltimore in a neighborhood that the Beat Cops knew at least 80% of the people in the neighborhood. They knew all the Merchants and business people, who also lived in the neighborhood. I grew up in a Baltimore that had a Rec Center that also was associated with PAL (Police Athletic League). Thus, the police officers knew most of us kids – they also knew where we lived and our parents. If we did something stupid (as kids are apt to do) instead of locking us up the Police showed up at our home to let our parents know we had done something foolish. If we had foolish parents the police were there to let us know that we could come and talk to them. We were not afraid of the police – we saw the police as protectors. But that did not mean the police let you get away with committing a crime. If you were determined to live a life of crime, you did the time.

    We need to bring this type of police training and community engagement back to our cities.

  18. Man, there has GOT to be change made here. The Constitution should be explained each shift change to policemen. Better training must be provided. Unarmed people detained by Police must not be killed any more.

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