Thousands gathered at Baltimore City Hall on Saturday for a march that often felt more like a celebratory rally than the mass protest that had been originally planned. Many had been expecting unrest, but the crowd was smaller than expected and “decidedly more upbeat” than previous rallies, notes the Washington Post. Coming a day after six police officers were charged in the killing of Freddie Gray, protesters danced and sang in a scene that served as a direct contrast to the angry rallies and riots that had engulfed the city in previous days.
Despite the positive atmosphere, it wasn’t all about celebrating, as many protesters looked back on the week and came to the conclusion that the charges would have never been brought against the police officers “if not for a riot Monday night—striking fear into the heart of the city establishment,” notes the Baltimore Sun. “Had it not been for the youth burning that CVS, we would not have had charges yesterday,” said organizer Kwame Rose.
Despite the improved atmosphere though, Baltimore police insisted the curfew would stay in place Saturday night. “Tonight, we see some of the same people in Baltimore that were here last Monday. We recognize the concerns over the curfew. For tonight, for everyone's safety, we’re going to keep the curfew in place. We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation for the last four nights of peace and stabilization within our city,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said, according to USA Today.
There was lots of praise for State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby on Saturday and several protesters even carried signs that sang her praises:
Legal experts, however, warn that getting a jury to convict the police officers of murder and manslaughter will be an uphill struggle, reports the Associated Press. To make the murder charge stick, for example, prosecutors will have to convince the jury that the driver of the van where Freddie Gray died knew his actions could result in him being killed. Others, however, say that any lengthy conviction should be seen as a victory, even if the more shocking charges do not end up sticking.