Close to half the protesters who were arrested during this week's civil unrest in Baltimore have been released without any charges, reports the Baltimore Sun.
This was after Gov. Larry Hogan took steps to keep people booked for up to two days without charges—twice as long as is typically allowed. The move was "necessary to protect the public safety,” Hogan said.
Critics dismissed the move as a way to unlawfully clear the streets of protesters, and as a breach of the right to habeas corpus. About 100 of the protesters were released after public defenders filed petitions to the attorney general’s office, the Guardian reported.
“The fact they have rescinded this rule, which was introduced specifically to protect citizens from being screwed over, is insane,” one Baltimore attorney told the Guardian.
Of those who have been charged, some are facing extremely high bail bonds, something which observers fear will only cause more animosity between the community and police.
In one incident, an 18-year-old who was charged with eight offenses, from rioting to disorderly conduct, was assigned a bail of half a million dollars.
The trial date for that case is set for May 28, and he will likely sit in jail until then.
"The bails that we're hearing about now are out-of-the ordinary," Paul B. DeWolf, the Maryland public defender, told the Sun. "Some of these people are children. Some were just picked up on the street. It's not been proven that they were guilty of anything."
More than 230 people were arrested during the protests earlier this week. Official numbers state that at least 144 cars have been set on fire, in addition to several buildings.
A citywide curfew has been set for 10 p.m to 5 a.m. in an effort to curb the unrest. At least 19 adults and 22 juveniles have been arrested for curfew violations since the rule went into effect on Tuesday night, stated a report from Gov. Hogan.
“We are working around the clock to ensure Baltimore City remains at peace, as it has throughout the day,” Gov. Hogan said. “The presence of the National Guard, Maryland State Police, and other law enforcement officials will continue in the days to come to ensure order is fully restored for the citizens of Baltimore.”
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.