Protest disrupts council meeting

Demonstrators want legislators to address Oct. 7 police shooting

October 26, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Demonstrators protesting the police shooting of an East Baltimore man disrupted the City Council meeting last night, demanding that the legislators address the issue.

About 12 protesters, who started the evening marching outside City Hall with signs stating "Stop Police Brutality," poured into Council Chambers and shouted over City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III as the 19-member panel was about to conclude its meeting.

"We really feel we need to address the issue," demonstrator Sharon Ceci yelled at Bell.

The incident occurred as the mother of the dead man, Larry J. Hubbard, sat in the front row of Council Chambers with her attorney, A. Dwight Pettit. Hubbard, 21, was shot in the back of the head by Baltimore police Officer Barry W. Hamilton after a scuffle Oct. 7.

Police said Hubbard was a suspect in a stolen car report and was shot while wrestling Officer Robert J. Quick, who told Hamilton, his partner, that Hubbard was reaching for his gun. Hamilton, who is white, then shot and killed Hubbard, who is black.

Residents in the Barclay area where the shooting occurred have contradicted the police report, contending that Hubbard was unarmed and never reached for the officer's gun. Witnesses say the officers punched Hubbard, partially handcuffed him, tripped him and then shot him as he pleaded for his life.

Several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the state's attorney's office are investigating the matter.

Hubbard's mother, Deborah C. Carr, was invited to Council Chambers after being seen outside at the demonstration. Bell acknowledged Carr and Hubbard at the start of the meeting during the invocation and moment of silence that is held for city homicide victims before each meeting.

Northeast Baltimore City Councilman Martin O'Malley, who is the Democratic nominee for mayor in the Nov. 2 general election, walked over and spoke with Carr during the meeting, patting her arm.

"I told her that although I know it's little consolation for her loss, we're going to make sure we get to the truth of this," O'Malley said.

After the meeting, Carr said she welcomed O'Malley's pledge.

"That's basically my main concern," Carr said. "A fair and open investigation."

During the meeting, Bell calmed the demonstrators by banging his gavel for silence and promising to address the issue. Bell said he intended to introduce a resolution calling for justice in the case but asked the protesters to be patient.

"Justice needs to be served," Bell said. "There needs to be a cleansing."

Carr and Pettit said they have received no news in the investigations.

"It's hard," Carr said. "I'm still in shock."

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