[News] Israeli-trained police invade Baltimore in crackdown on Black Lives Matter

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 7 11:58:14 EDT 2015

  Israeli-trained police invade Baltimore in crackdown on Black Lives

Submitted by Rania Khalek on Thu, 05/07/2015

For the second time in less than a year, an American city was 
transformed into a hypermilitarized police state to subdue growing 
resistance to anti-Black police violence.

Eight months ago, paramilitary forces barreled down the streets of 
Missouri, following the gruesome police killing of unarmed Black 
teenager Michael Brown.

Last week, martial law 
<http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30602-don-t-call-it-a-curfew-martial-law-in-the-united-states#> was 
imposed on the people of Baltimore, Maryland, in yet another crackdown 
aimed at crushing the Black Lives Matter uprising, galvanized this 
time by the police murder of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man whose 
spinal cord was severed 
while in police custody.

It was an occupation in the truest sense of the term. However, for 
Baltimore’s poor Black neighborhoods, it was a hypermilitarized version 
of the lower intensity occupation they are subjected to on a regular basis.

Protests demanding justice for Gray had been largely peaceful, until 
heavy-handed police tactics against Baltimore high school students on 27 
April incited 
a riot.

Some young people responded by throwing bottles and rocks at police, 
prompting comparisons 
<https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/592825255388958720> to 
where children often toss stones at Israeli occupation forces as a means 
of resistance and self-defense.

Windows of police cruisers were smashed, stores were looted and a CVS 
store was set ablaze, throwing white America into a panicked frenzy that 
seemed to prioritize broken windows over broken spines, as one activist 
put it 

    Martial law

Within hours of the riots, Baltimore city officials declared a state of 
emergency and instituted a 10 pm curfew.

Practically overnight, Baltimore morphed into a heavily militarized 
police state with machine-like efficiency, demonstrating America’s 
frightening capacity to successfully implement martial law in a major US 
city in a matter of hours.

By Tuesday, 3,000 National Guard troops were deployed to Baltimore.

With assault rifles in hand, bored US soldiers in official military 
combat attire roamed the streets of downtown Baltimore, patrolling the 
National Aquarium, as well as the outlets of Forever 21, Cheesecake 
Factory and Barnes & Noble that dot the trendy and polished Inner Harbor.

The soldiers were flanked by police from a collection of law enforcement 
agencies from Maryland and across state lines, all working in concert 
with Baltimore police to crush the nascent uprising that erupted in the 
city’s long neglected poor Black neighborhoods. For these communities, 
martial law presented nothing more than an added layer to the ferocious 
police violence 
<http://http://data.baltimoresun.com/news/police-settlements/> and 
intolerable economic deprivation 
<http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/04/28/3651951/baltimore-freddie-gray-economic> that 
inform their daily lives.

    Breaking curfew

On Friday 1 May, around eighty protesters held their ground in the 
courtyard in front of City Hall. They were in high spirits and 
determined to break the 10 pm curfew following news that six Baltimore 
police officers were charged 
in the killing of Freddie Gray.

The courtyard had become an unofficial media headquarters since the 
state of emergency began, saturated with TV news vans, cable news tents 
and lighting crews. The area also served as a command center for the 
National Guard and law enforcement.

As the curfew went into effect, a line of around a hundred riot police 
filed into the quad opposite the protesters, who had thinned out from a 
couple hundred to a few dozen. The mood was tense, but calm.

Minutes later, hidden units of riot police thundered into the crowd, 
charging at frightened protesters who soon learned there was nowhere to 
run. Protesters were woefully outnumbered and surrounded, with all 
possible escape routes cut off by either riot squads, officers on 
horseback, armored vehicles with rooftop snipers or National Guard 
troops, reinforced by a police helicopter circling overhead.

Police officers dressed like storm troopers attacked one protester after 
the next completely unprovoked. I watched as police all around 
me tackled civilians, slamming them into the ground face first, piling 
on top of them and blindly swinging their batons. It was a police riot.

Meanwhile, police closed in on the media, jostling members of the press 
and repeatedly threatening them to get back. *

Mass arrests *

Among those arrested that night was 32-year-old Chicago-based activist 
Danielle Villarreal, who was knocked to the ground by officers while 
quietly looking to see which of her comrades had been grabbed.

Her friend, Jackie Spreadbury, 26, instinctively reached for Villareal’s 
arm to protect her from police and was instantly thrown against a van 
and tossed to the ground, her cheek pressed up against the curb.

“They hit me with their batons on the back of the calf below the knee as 
I was already down on the ground,” Spreadbury told me, recollecting her 
arrest. “I didn’t realize at the time that I was getting hit. I was just 
looking at Danielle to see if she was okay.”

“A bunch of cops were yelling different things at me. And then they 
started yelling at me for not listening to all the different things they 
were demanding,” Spreadbury recalled.

“I’ve been to lots of demonstrations over the years and I’ve never seen 
this sort of pre-emptive oppression — outside of NATO in Chicago — where 
they lunged at us and chased us down without warning, and just 
pre-emptively attacked people,” said Villarreal, referring to the 
virtual police state during the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012 that saw 
protesters corralled, abused and arrested 

“If you want to see who wants a riot, look at who’s dressed for it,” 
added Villarreal, noting that police were the ones wearing body armor 
and carrying billy clubs.

During their 22 hour stay in jail, the women met countless Baltimore 
residents who were swept up by police for breaking curfew while going 
about their daily lives. “They were put in a cell with us — women, 
mothers daughters — they got picked up because of this police state. 
There was a 51–year-old woman who was arrested on her way from work at 
4:45 am during curfew,” said Spreadbury.

At least 486 people 
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/high-number-of-arrests-in-baltimore-leads-to-confusion-in-charging/2015/05/04/d71ad79c-f28e-11e4-bcc4-e8141e5eb0c9_story.html> have 
been arrested in Baltimore since 23 April, a fifth of whom were held for 
48 hours 
without explanation and released without charge.

Others were given astronomically high bails.

Allen Bullock, 18, turned himself in at the behest of his parents after 
a photo of him smashing a police windshield with a traffic cone was 
plastered in news reports across the country. Bullock is currently being 
held on a half a million dollar bail 
that his family can’t possibly afford. In stark contrast, the officers 
who severed Freddie Gray’s spine received bails no greater than $350,000 

    Palestine contingent lends support

Building on the deepening bond between the Palestinian and Black 
liberation struggles, Palestinian civil society organizations issued 
a declaration of support for those struggling against racial injustice 
in Baltimore.

“We send our condolences to the family of Freddie Gray and all those 
murdered in police custody,” says the statement. “We stand in solidarity 
with those whose homes have been foreclosed, with those who live under 
the constant watch of surveillance cameras and under the constant threat 
of being stopped, harassed, arrested and assaulted by a militarized 
police force in their own streets. Your struggle for justice, equality 
and freedom is our struggle.”

A contingent of Palestine solidarity activists affiliated with Students 
for Justice with Palestine (SJP) at American University and Students 
Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at George Mason University turned those 
words into action.

Wearing their /kufiyehs/ — Palestinian checkered scarves — to remain 
easily visible to one another amid the likely chaos, the group shuffled 
back and forth between Washington DC and Baltimore to lend their support 
as legal observers and medics.

“Oftentimes we struggle with wanting to participate because we don’t 
know if it’s our place and we don’t want to be co-opting,” said Ntebo 
Maya Mokuena, a 19-year-old member of SJP at AU. “But I think it’s 
important for people in DC to show solidarity in Baltimore because we’re 
so close.”

Mokuena gravitated toward Palestine solidarity work due to her father’s 
activism against apartheid in South Africa. “I saw the connections 
between his experiences in South Africa and what happens in Palestine. I 
thought it was really important to carry on the family legacy,” she told 
The Electronic Intifada.

“From Palestine to Baltimore, there are parallels with militarization of 
police and the tactics they use to take over space in other people’s 
land. They’re occupying people’s neighborhoods where they live. It’s 
like the second wave for Baltimore because it’s already economically 
occupied,” said Mokuena.

The group managed to avoid arrest during Friday night’s melee, though 
some told The Electronic Intifada that they were more frightened of 
police in Baltimore than Israeli forces at protests they had attended in 

“Even though I’ve been to protests in Palestine, I saw more physical 
abuse in Baltimore,” said Tareq Radi, a Palestinian American 
organizer and founding member of SAIA. Still, what he witnessed in 
Baltimore reminded him of Israeli crowd control in Palestine. “I went to 
the ‘day of rage’ protests in the Negev [Naqab] and I saw people getting 
slammed on the ground, hogtied, police grabbing their arms and legs and 
throwing them in the paddy wagon — the exact same imagery as Baltimore.”

“If Baltimore was a Middle Eastern country, we would be calling it a 
dictatorship,” Radi added.

    Echoes of Israeli tactics in Baltimore

The similarities in suppression tactics employed by Baltimore and 
Israeli security forces are no coincidence.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police 
agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in 
occupation enforcement, including many of the agencies active in 
Baltimore last week.

In 2002, Baltimore city police officers went to Israel on a junket 
organized by the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security 
Affairs (JINSA), where they studied Israeli occupation tactics used 
against Palestinians, including “crowd control, and coordination with 
the media,” according to a JINSA press release 
“Participants resolved to begin the process of sharing ‘lessons learned’ 
in Israel with their law enforcement colleagues in the United 
States,” boasted JINSA.

Baltimore city police returned to Israel for more occupation training in 
a 2009 trip <http://projectinterchange.org/?seminar_id=4536> arranged by 
the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.

On a 2007 training session in Israel, Baltimore County police reportedly 
“received valued lessons 
from Israeli officials…about gathering human and electronic 
intelligence” that can “apply to investigations into organized crime and 

The Montgomery County Police Department, which sent dozens 
<http://www.gazette.net/article/20150501/NEWS/150509843/1225&source=RSS&template=gazette> of 
police officers to assist in the Baltimore crackdown, has attended 
several training sessions in Israel, including one in 2010 
<http://projectinterchange.org/?p=5229> and another in 2012 
<http://projectinterchange.org/?p=6794>, both hosted by Project 

New Jersey State Police, which donated around 150 
its officers to Baltimore’s police state, learned lessons in occupation 
enforcement on trips to Israel arranged by the Anti-Defamation League in 
<http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/israel-middle-east/top-us-law-enforcement.html> and 
<http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/israel-middle-east/adl-mission-brings-us-law-enforcement.html#.VUo6p6aN72g>, and JINSA 
in 2004 

Pennsylvania State Police, which contributed 300 state troopers 
to Baltimore, studied counterterrorism in Israel in 2004 

While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the 
US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s 
security apparatus facilitates it. Instead, the issue is virtually 
ignored or flat out denied 
despite the troubling implications of emulating an apartheid regime 
actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

    Armed with cameras

There is something eerily consistent about occupation, whether in the 
ghettos of Palestine or the United States, including one of the most 
widely used means of resistance to it.

“A camera is the most trusted witness and the best protection tool 
Issa Amro, the founder and director of Youth Against Settlements, told 
me last year after his organization faced violent retaliation for 
recording Israeli soldiers pointing assault rifles at Palestinian teens 
in a video that went viral 

Kevin Moore, who filmed the video of Freddie Gray’s brutal arrest, sees 
the camera in a similar light.

“The most powerful weapon that we have against the police right now is a 
camcorder or any type of record that you can get against them performing 
those police brutal events,” argued 
<http://wtop.com/baltimore/2015/05/man-who-filmed-freddie-gray-arrest-says-hell-keep-the-camera-rolling/> Moore 
after his video of Gray went viral. After speaking out about Gray’s 
killing, Moore complained that police were intimidating him. He was 
later arrested 
with two activists from Copwatch, the police accountability organization 
he is a member of and released two hours later without charge.

Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the chokehold killing of Eric Garner by 
NYPD officers in Staten Island last year, met an even worse fate. He was 
along with his mother, brother and wife in what he contends is a 
campaign of vengeful harassment by the NYPD.

Meanwhile, not one of the officers who killed Garner on video will face 
charges; Video evidence of deadly police violence rarely results in 

Under such intolerable conditions, where even video evidence of their 
murders isn’t enough to hold their killers accountable, it is no wonder 
that the oppressed are fighting back, from Baltimore to Ferguson to 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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