Cortly Witherspoon and Sharon Black arrested at City Hall

Activists sought meeting with Rawlings-Blake about police brutality

cortly witherspoon arrested

Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, outside Central Booking, after arrest at Baltimore City Hall.

Photo by: William Hughes

Baltimore police arrested two longtime political activists today and charged them with trespassing after they tried unsuccessfully to deliver a letter – about the closing of recreation centers and fire stations and alleged police abuses – to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, president of the local chapter of the Southern Leadership Conference, and Sharon Black, an organizer with the Baltimore All Peoples Congress, had been leading an afternoon rally of about 75 people outside City Hall.

According to Baltimore photographer and videographer William Hughes, the two were arrested after they refused to leave City Hall:

“I was there for the whole rally, which began at 3 PM at the Shot Tower. Then, they marched to City Hall, past Police H/Q. I saw Sharon and CD, inside the City Hall. They were trying to get permission to go up the Mayor’s Office. They were allowed up to the office and met with a rep. I was back outside by then.”

Activist Sharon Black being escorted to Central Booking today after being arrested at City Hall for trespassing. (Photo by Wiliam Hughes)

Activist Sharon Black being escorted to Central Booking today after being arrested at City Hall for trespassing. (Photo by William Hughes)

The mayor declined to meet with them and they insisted, according to their phone messages to the crowd outside, on a personal meeting. When they refused to leave, they were arrested.

Organizers have been talking in recent weeks about the letter they planned to send to Rawlings-Blake demanding “an emergency meeting” to talk about police-involved shootings in Baltimore, among other issues.

Among the cases of alleged misconduct they cited today was that of David Yim, a disabled man shot by police in April, and Thomas Threatt, whose beating during an east Baltimore jobs protest was captured on video.

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  • Fire and Metal

    I cant believe that Mayor Failings Blake would not grant these two goofs an impromptu meeting.  Were these two serious?  Is this the best political activism that Baltimore has to offer?  No wonder city council members and the Mayor ignore their constitutents.  Whats their next strategy – a candlelight vigil? 

  • Concerned Citizen

    If you are not a part of the solution then it is evident that your ignorance is apart of the problen #GETALIFE #GETAJOB #GETBACKTOWORK 

  • Cindy Walsh

    I attended the rally and watched as CD and Sharon came out of city hall in handcuffs.  They went in knowing that they would likely face this scenario but as was said at the rally, we will be raising the level of activism on these issues and everyone who comes out in support of these issues will be ready to go to jail.

    It is surreal to be looking at Baltimore City Hall where everyone knows fraud and corruption exists without interruption, surrounded by swat/police officers as they play a waiting game in bringing two activists out in handcuffs.  The Mayor simply had to receive a petition from her constituents, rather she sent them to jail.

    As I spoke with a justice organization member there to witness this event, I said ‘this is definitely a second world scenario’ to which he said……’no, it is third world’.  We have a puppet administration sending citizens making a reasonable request to jail as political prisoners.

    This movement will only grow! 

  • The Dark Knight

    This is an outrage and a travesty. To arrest two nonviolent protesters for simply requesting a meeting. The police could have just as easily escorted them out of city hall and let them go. SRB’s administration is a joke of the highest order. She and other pols are completely beholden to big developers and power brokers, not to everyday people and certainly not to the least of these…

    This was a brave action and a call to increased activism. To answer Fire and Metal, yes we need bolder strategies and more effective avenues to bring about change. If people are serious about transforming the bankrupt O’Malley Machine that runs Baltimore, then the people must stand up to demand justice.

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