Detective Sean Suiter, a loving husband and father of five, was gunned down last Wednesday while patrolling the streets of West Baltimore around 5pm. The 18-year veteran with the Baltimore Police noted that he had seen suspicious activity and went to approach the subject when he was shot point blank in the head. Detective Suiter was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He succumbed to his injuries later that evening.
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) November 16, 2017
Baltimore Police responded with “fire and fury.” They turned the entire neighborhood where Suiter was shot into an “open-air prison.” They shut down streets to the city. They opened up checkpoints for citizens. Baltimore Brew reported that authorities wearing tactical gear knocked on every door. People were not even allowed to come into their own neighborhood unless they showed officers proper forms of identification. These measures have been in place for 4-5 days so far.
A local resident named Edward Stanley explained that he was required to show a yellow slip of paper prior to coming into his neighborhood. He stated, “They’ve been to my house three times asking, ‘Did you hear anything? Do you know anything?’”
Baltimore Brew reported that the neighborhood was set up as what they call an “open-air prison.” Those living in the neighborhood were on total lockdown so authorities could collect any evidence they could find and look for the shooter. In the beginning, police explained that they had to block off the area in order to work on finding the shooter. It has been released that Suiter was shot in the 900 block of Bennett Place while he was investigating a previous homicide. No arrests have been made as of yet in the case. Homicide detective Mike Newton explained to the Baltimore Brew that the lockdown was completely necessary in order to find any evidence they could.
One group in the community took photos of one of the checkpoints in West Baltimore.
— Baltimore BLOC (@BmoreBloc) November 19, 2017
— Baltimore BLOC (@BmoreBloc) November 19, 2017
A different Twitter account posted about how “the police declared martial law.” They show a photograph of a police officer holding an assault rifle as he stands watch on a city corner.
And apparently police been standing on corners like this the last two days pic.twitter.com/y9Qrd2TSRe
— Pulla (@KINGDACEO) November 17, 2017
Those living in the chaos have described how their daily lives have been completely disrupted. West Baltimore is still under total police control. The Baltimore Brew also reported further on the case. Two women who were making their way down Franklin Street to get to their respective cars had to park blocks away as a direct result of the lockdown. They had complained that officers had harassed them while they were walking.
A 25-year-old woman who will be identified only as Shelly, explained, “They know I live here. They’ve seen me come and go. But this one had to pat me down. He went like this to my jacket, grabbing it. They wanted to know where I had been. Why do I have to tell him that? It’s just me in my flip-flops trying to go to my own home.”
A statement was released by the ACLU of Maryland yesterday saying they are“troubled by reports that some persons entering or leaving the area have been subject to pat down searches, and that non-residents have been barred from entering the area.”
“While the search for a killer is, of course, a high priority for the police, the limits on lawful police behavior do not disappear even when engaged in that pursuit. And at least one federal appellate court has said that a similar police cordon and checkpoint system was unconstitutional.
“The residents of Baltimore, and, in particular, the residents of the affected community, deserve a clear explanation from the City as to why this unprecedented action has been taken, what rules are being enforced, and why it is lawful. The need to secure a crime scene from contamination to preserve evidence does not, on its face, explain the wide area to which access has been restricted for days after the incident.”
On-the-ground information is scarce to those outside the cordon because access to residents, including by the media, has also been restricted. For that reason, we encourage anyone who has this kind of information to contact us at curtis@ aclu-md . org
WBALTV11 came to one of the checkpoints in West Baltimore. They reported that one citizen stated, “this is the 3rd time in less than 3 years that West Baltimore has been occupied by police…”
Police are due to “clear the crime scene” on Monday, so within a few hours it should be cleared.
West Franklin Street is back open to traffic.
— Vanessa Herring (@VanessaWBAL) November 20, 2017
It’s pretty scary to think that law enforcement can just decide that Martial Law can be enforced whenever they feel like it. Is this the America we know and love?