Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard late Monday to immediately assist police officers, hours after rioting gangs hurled rocks at police, injuring 15, set a patrol car on fire, and looted stores in a downtown section of Baltimore.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wasn’t afraid to call the rioters “thugs” and announce that a 10pm-5am curfew would be imposed beginning Tuesday.
What started out as a week of peaceful protests after 25-year-old black male, Freddie Gray, died April 19, a week after suffering injuries while in Baltimore police custody, has turned violent and out of control.
Watch the video below to see scenes from the riots. *Warning: Profanity ahead*
Gray was arrested after officers chased him through a West Baltimore neighborhood and put into a police van when his spine was nearly severed. Gray asked for medical help several times, beginning before he was placed in the van and transported without a seatbelt, according to Baltimore police, which is a violation of the police department’s policy. After a 30-minute ride that included three stops, paramedics were called.
While the reasonings behind Gray’s arrest and his spinal injury are vague, Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told the Baltimore Sun that Gray was contacted because he was believed to have been “immediately involved or had been recently involved in criminal activity.” Gray’s lengthy criminal record, mainly drug-related, shows that he has been arrested 18 times and this time he was charged for unlawful possession of a switchblade found after he had been detained. Police acknowledged Friday that Gray should have received immediate medical attention on the spot where he was arrested.
Most of the protests were quiet — until Saturday night. More than 1,000 people had joined a non-violent 90-minute rally at Cit Hall on Saturday, but the mood shifted dramatically when the protesters moved to the Camden Yards baseball stadium, where the Baltimore Orioles-Boston Red Sox games was taking place, and they clashed with officers in riot gear outside the downtown baseball parks. The rioting, looting and threats of further violence continued on Monday when Gray’s funeral was held. Stores including a CVS pharmacy, a check cashing store, a liquor store and a cell phone store have been looted and burned down.
Report: The building on fire in Baltimore was a new senior center built by a local church. pic.twitter.com/mSmysK1wHL
— TheBlazeNOW (@TheBlazeNOW) April 28, 2015
People still throwing bottles at police – next to this huge fire pic.twitter.com/9eXc3I8AIw
— Arthur Delaney (@ArthurDelaneyHP) April 27, 2015
Police said 15 officers were injured, and two remained hospitalized Monday evening. Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said officers displayed “remarkable restraint” and would respond with tear gas and “pepper balls,” according to USA Today.
As night approached, Baltimore police used Twitter to describe protesters as “a violent and aggressive group” and urged citizens to avoid the area. The University of Maryland Baltimore shut down its campus, hours after city police announced a “credible threat” that local gangs were targeting police officers.
The police department said the Criminal Intelligence Unit had obtained information indicating “members of various gangs including the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods and Crips have entered into a partnership to ‘take out’ law enforcement officers.”
On Monday, police said an online call was issued for a”purge” at 3 p.m. ET, starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending in the downtown area. The type of threat threat is based on a movie called “The Purge,” which is based in a society that allows an annual 12-hour period during which all criminal activity, including murder, is legal.
Many people have expressed anger and disappointment with the violent riots taking place, saying that there should be peaceful protests if disagreement occurs and everyone needs to obtain a protest permit beforehand.
— Anthony (@iSpeakComedy) April 28, 2015