BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore City Public Schools chief is warning students about the consequences of a violent response or other forms of protest ahead of any verdict in the trial of a police officer charged in Freddie Gray’s death.
The letter dated Monday from school system CEO Gregory Thornton was sent home with students. A jury began deliberations Monday afternoon in the trial of William Porter, the first of six officers to go on trial in Gray’s death.
Thornton writes that the school system supports students’ right to express their emotions and will facilitate ways for them to do so. But he warns that “student walkouts, vandalism, civil disorder and any form of violence are not acceptable” and will result in consequences.
He also urged parents to prepare their children to act responsibly and safely.
The riot in April escalated after high school students were let out of school and converged on a mall, throwing rocks, bottles and bricks at officers. In October, more than a dozen activists, including several high school students, were arrested after an overnight sit-in at City Hall.
Baltimore Police have established a Joint Information Center to get information out quickly to community groups and others as the city awaits any verdict in the trial of William Porter, one of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said that rather than relying on solely on social media, the information center brings invited stakeholders into the same room to answer questions, dispel rumors and disseminate information.
Smith said the center opened at noon Monday at an undisclosed location. About two dozen people were there as of Monday afternoon.
Hospitals, schools and community groups are among those invited. Smith said police can discuss information in person that doesn’t convey easily over social media.
Smith said police established the center at the mayor’s request.
Earlier, the city opened an emergency operations center to help coordinate any necessary response after a verdict.
The jury in the trial of an officer charged in Freddie Gray’s death has started its deliberations and the judge has told them they can deliberate as long as they want.
Jurors left the courtroom at about 2:30 p.m. Monday to begin their discussions after a two-week trial.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams told them they won’t be asked to stop at 5:30 p.m., if all jurors want to keep working.
The jury began deliberating after hearing closing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case against Officer William Porter.
He faces charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office
A jury has started deliberations in the first trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.
The case went to the jury Monday after closing arguments.
Officer William Porter is charged with manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. The maximum penalty he faces is about 25 years.
Gray died April 19, a week after his neck was broken during a ride in the back of a police van.
Prosecutors say Porter was criminally negligent for ignoring a policy requiring officers to strap prisoners in with a seat belt, and for not calling an ambulance immediately after Gray indicated he needed medical aid.
The defense says the prosecution’s case was based on speculation, not evidence.
Five more officers are awaiting trial.
Baltimore’s mayor says the city is opening an emergency operations center as the first trial of a police officer in Freddie Gray’s death draws to a close.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says in a letter to community leaders that she has “no doubt” city officials are prepared for anything, but the center will open at 10 a.m. Monday as a precaution. She says it will help agencies coordinate any necessary response. Rawlings-Blake says the city also is communicating with outside law enforcement agency partners.
The mayor says business should continue as usual and people must respect the jury’s decision in Officer William Porter’s trial. He’s one of six officers charged.
Gray’s April 19 death was followed by peaceful demonstrations. But unrest broke out April 25 and again on April 27, bringing a curfew and the National Guard to the streets.