U.S. News

Protest against Baltimore youth jail shuts down highways

(Reuters) - Baltimore protesters marching against a planned $30 million juvenile jail shut down highways on Tuesday in the latest demonstration over the city’s justice system, motorists and organizers said.

The protesters shut down exits from Interstate 395, Key Highway and other roads as many residents were returning from the Memorial Day holiday, according to Twitter posts and pictures from motorists on a Baltimore Sun blog.

“We are not going nowhere until the juvenile jail does,” one of the organizers, the Reverend Jamal Bryant, said in a Twitter post.

Baltimore police said protesters were carrying out a peaceful demonstration and urged them to stay off the roadway.

The protest is one of the biggest since the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from injuries suffered in police custody. His death sparked rioting in the largely black city, and six officers have been charged in the case.

The demonstration was in response to Maryland state officials’ plans to build a 60-bed jail to house Baltimore teenagers charged as adults. The move is aimed at addressing longstanding concerns about housing youthful defendants alongside adults.

Bryant and others contend the money would be better spent on education. Republican Governor Larry Hogan this month decided to take $68 million that the Democrat-controlled legislature had earmarked for schools and use it to shore up the Maryland pension system.

Baltimore has seen an upturn in murders since Gray’s death. A tally by the Baltimore Sun shows 35 killings in May, the most in any month since 1999. Police had no comment on the murder total.

Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu