ACLU Blasts Baltimore Police Union For Racially Profiling Black Children

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland condemned the comments from the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) that implied that some of the children at a massive brawl at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor were “criminals.” At least six juveniles are facing charges after fights broke out around 6:30 p.m. on May 25.

“To our officers at the Harbor tonight: protect each other and don’t fall into the trap that they are only kids. Some are criminals! Keep the current policies and Consent Decree in mind. If ordered to arrest put the name of the on-scene Commander in all reporting,” Baltimore City FOP’s Mike Mancuso tweeted on May 25.

A union spokesperson told The North Star that it had no further comment. The remark came hours after fights broke out among a crowd of juveniles; witnesses told WJZ that children of all ages were seen hitting people, then ran in different directions to avoid police. Authorities received calls at around 6:30 p.m. of a large crowd of young people near the corner of Light and East Pratt streets in Baltimore. Reports later came in of the teens fighting.

According to WJZ, cell phone videos showed hordes of people running to get away from the melee. The ACLU of Maryland called the FOP’s remarks unacceptable and said trust between residents and the police department was already damaged.

“UNACCEPTABLE! Trust between community members and the police has been broken for a long time. Comments like this do nothing to repair that trust,” the organization tweeted. “Instead it encourages racial profiling tactics, excessive force, and excuses officers for disregarding the rights of Black children.” The ACLU of Maryland did not respond to The North Star’s request for additional comment. No major injuries were reported and six juveniles were arrested, police said. The teens were charged with disorderly conduct, destruction of property, unarmed robbery, and assault, Colonel Richard Worley, the chief of patrol, told The Baltimore Sun.

“We had approximately 400 kids [at] the harbor,” Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello said. “By and large most of those kids were just enjoying the weekend and some nice weather, but we did have a small group of kids who were acting inappropriately running on the roofs of cars so that’s very disappointing. That type of behavior is unacceptable.”

The Inner Harbor is an example of the city’s urban renewal and represented a beacon of change in a city often plagued by crime and corruption. The area is filled with restaurants and shops, and is close to the Under Armour multi-building campus. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Baltimore’s poor neighborhoods.

Mayor Jack Young said the incident was a “parenting question” and wondered whether parents were talking to their children about treating their city with respect. Young said parents need to let their children know that Baltimore’s downtown and Inner Harbor belongs to them, but they need “to act with common sense and decency.” “This kind of behavior is unacceptable, and I’m making no excuses for it. It’s unacceptable. But that don’t indict everybody who lives in the city of Baltimore. The 99.9 percent of the citizens of Baltimore are law-abiding citizens who want to do the right thing,” Young added about the weekend chaos at the Inner Harbor, according to WBAL-TV. “It’s that 1 percent that keeps us held hostage.”

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Young also praised police for showing restraint. “They handled it very well. I don’t think they were down there to attack our young people,” the Democratic mayor said. “They were down there for peace and order.” Costello told reporters that the city has reopened two rec centers in his district in the last three years. He said he was working with the city council president to find other weekend activities for the city’s young people.

Despite the FOP’s remarks, Baltimore Police said that officers were at the Inner Harbor to protect everyone, including kids. Worley told WJZ that police knew about the gathering ahead of time and that officers were “prepared for whatever.”

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.