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Protest planned over Black teens’ arrests in Ocean City

ANNAPOLIS — Civil rights activists say they’ll protest along the way to Ocean City on Thursday to bring attention to the violent arrests of Black teenagers in June that stemmed from confrontations over vaping.

Carl Snowden from the Caucus of African American Leaders said during a Monday press conference in Annapolis that the demonstrators are aiming to “raise the consciousness” of people traveling to the popular Maryland beach destination ahead of Labor Day weekend.

“There’s this belief that if you just keep quiet long enough, people will forget,” Snowden said. “It’s our intention to make sure they do not forget.”

A Perryville 18-year-old was shot with a stun gun on June 6 when police tried to stop him from vaping on the boardwalk, according to court documents. Four 18- and 19-year-olds from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were charged in connection with a separate confrontation on June 12 — also over vaping.

In a video of the second incident, a Black teen gets kneed repeatedly by an officer. One is taken into custody after lifting one of several police bicycles encircling the officers and another is shot with a stun gun as he struggles with officers.

“While the use of force is never the intended outcome, our police department’s first priority is to protect and serve,” Ocean City police said in a statement following public concern over the video. “They do not target based on race or age.”

Snowden said activists met with Mayor Rick Meehan to call for the suspension of officers while an investigation was conducted. They also want an independent probe of the incidents, but their demands weren’t met.

The civil rights leader on Monday outlined other actions that his organization plans to take, including meeting with all the state’s attorneys in Maryland to discuss similar cases, filing a federal complaint for an independent investigation and packing the courthouse for a trial related to the June 12 incident that’s scheduled for October.