BALTIMORE – Fires burned and stores got looted as anger and violence escalated in the city on the day Freddie Gray was laid to rest. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Monday evening and deployed 1,000 members of the National Guard after rioting on Tuesday led to the arrest of more than […]
BALTIMORE – Fires burned and stores got looted as anger and violence escalated in the city on the day Freddie Gray was laid to rest.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Monday evening and deployed 1,000 members of the National Guard after rioting on Tuesday led to the arrest of more than 240 individuals and 19 building fires. City police also reported 144 vehicle fires and 20 injured cops, including two who remain in shock trauma.
“As the state aggressively takes action to restore peace and order in Baltimore City, I want the citizens of Maryland to know that the state is fully engaged on all levels,” Hogan said.
City residents protested in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died a week after Batlimore police arrested him on April 12 following a foot pursuit through several complexes.?Gray suffered a severed spine injury and a crushed voice box while in police custody.
Protestors found themselves at odds, with some calling for peace and others resorting to violence.
At about 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, protestors gathered at Mondawmin Mall, looting the stores and engaging more than 100 police officers dressed in riot gear. The riots moved south, with residents setting a CVS store on fire at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue in West Baltimore. There, firefighters worked to put out the blaze while police set up riot lines at each of the surrounding sides of the intersections.
Residents stood within inches of officers, yelling profanities and racial slurs. Other residents stood by, pleading with their neighbors to stop the violence. Another man kneeled next to a white woman between the officers and the protestors to pray.
D. Watkins, a resident of Baltimore, said it disappointed him to watch his city get destroyed, but residents need answers after losing one of their own.
“Hopefully (officials) see things need to change, but it doesn’t come with us burning the city to the ground,” Watkins said.
However, Hogan said violence would not be tolerated.
“I have put the Maryland National Guard on alert so they can be in position to deploy rapidly as needed,” Hogan said. “I strongly condemn the actions of the offenders who are engaged in direct attacks against innocent civilians, businesses and law enforcement officers. There is a significant difference between protesting and violence and those committing these acts will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law.”
In addition to the National Guard, Hogan deployed 400 state troopers and announced the state has received the aid of 300 officers from Pennsylvania, 150 from New Jersey and 45 from the District of Columbia.
As evening set in, protests moved into the city, while stores across the city got looted. More protestors came to yell at the officers while a Vietnam War veteran stood between them and the line, yelling at people to stop making fools of themselves.
A pharmacy down the road from the police lines at North Avenue got looted, without any officers making an attempt to stop the destruction. Employees at a grocery store a few blocks away could be seen boarding up the store after it got looted, while one of the store’s own security guards looted the Rite Aid next door.
Firefighters could also be observed putting out a fire at another building at hte corner of Federal Street and Chester Street.?The building, which was under construction, would have become a senior home.
Lisa Mills, who lifelong resident of Baltimore who brought her young grandson to the intersection by the CVS store, said it broke her heart to watch the destruction of the city.
“Where are we going to shop? Look at how many people are going to be out of work and lost their jobs because of the stores (getting destroyed),” Mills said. “I’m ashamed. I’ve got to live with this (situation). This is the result of a bunch of ignorant people without respect for themselves. It’s really sad.”
Mills said she understands and agrees with the anger that residents have, but they should protest peacefully. She also expressed disappointment with the police, saying she would like to teach her grandson that the police will protect him but a “small bunch” of officers flaunt their badges and abuse their power.
“This is beyond the officers though,” Mills said. “We need to elect officials that will rewrite the laws. We need the police to be policed. We need better laws in place so people will be held accountable for what they do.”
To help city police, jurisdictions throughout Maryland sent aid, including police departments from Prince George’s, Montgomery and Howard counties. Earlier in the day Baltimore police sent out an alert that rival gangs had aligned together to kill police officers.
Lt. Jarriel Jordan, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department, said the department sent 30 officers to Baltimore to assist with the situation. At least one armored vehicle from the county was spotted in the city.
So far, Jordan said, the county has not received any threats in Prince George’s.
“It is a Baltimore situation, so it hasn’t gotten back to us yet,” Jordan said. “30 officers are up there assisting in a supportive role. We were there for support but nothing more.”
Meanwhile, Baltimore closed schools on Tuesday and the Baltimore Orioles canceled their game against the Chicago White Sox.
Some protestors even threatened journalists. They told a Sentinel reporter to leave with his camera or else “it will be taken away.”
Baltimore resident Rashida said Baltimore needs to “really invoke change” so there is mediation between those who are angry and those who are trying to organize. Another resident, Will, said he believes officials need to look at themselves in the mirror, or else incidents such as Gray’s death and those of other young black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City that made national headlines will continue to occur.
“The mayor and the rest of the city really need to ask themselves serious questions. Are they going to protect the lives of these six crooked police officers or watch the city burn to the ground?” he said. “…What happened here is not an isolated incident. It’s everywhere. A revolution is coming and we have to be ready as a city.”
Baltimore City?Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has implemented a 10 p.m.- 5 a.m. curfew for all residents for the rest of the week following the riots.