The city of Baltimore was in shambles early this morning after groups of rioters started fires, broke windows, looted stores and businesses, all to protest against the death of Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray died after 80% of his spinal cord was severed and his larynx was crushed while in custody of police.
Gray was chased and held down by police officers on April 12. A video captured images of Gray as he was being dragged into a police van as he lay limp, but screaming in pain. He was placed unbuckled inside the police vehicle to the station. Medics examined him at the police station and rushed him to the hospital. Gray died a few days later, after slipping into a coma. Police now admit Gray should have been buckled inside the van and should have received medical attention immediately.
Peaceful protests broke out at the beginning of the week. Saturday night things began to get heated with demonstrators arguing against officers donned in riot gear outside the baseball park. As time passed, the message spread that protestors wanted to “shut the city down.” It didn’t take long for violence to break out all over the city.
Now plumes of smoke rise from the buildings where arsonists struck overnight, wearing out the Baltimore Fire Department members. A large pawnshop burned down on the west side of the city. A few fire departments were called out to fight that blaze.
Police are hoping Tuesday would be a better day in the city of Baltimore. So are the family and friends of Freddie Gray. All feel Freddie would not have wanted the violence throughout the city to be associated with his death. Gray was a 25-year-old black man. His death incited investigations into the Baltimore Police Department by both the mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore police commissioner, Anthony W. Batts, noting that the overhaul of the department is needed due to a past history of aggression and sometimes brutal handling of black men during arrests. Both the commissioner and the mayor understand the difficulties and frustration inside the black community being black themselves.
During the eulogy at Mr. Gray’s funeral, Rev. Jamal Bryant stated Gray’s death would not “be in vain.” He said the residents of Baltimore would continue demanding justice, stating black people must demand justice and take back their lives.
Once the rioting began, the reverend appeared in the neighborhood to ask for peace, not violence.
This is not what the family asked for, today of all days. For us to come out of the burial and walk into this is absolutely inexcusable. I’m asking every young person to go back home. It’s frustration, anger and it’s disrespect for the family.
Men in surgical masks pulled cases of water from the shelves of a convenience store amid groups of protestors who were asking for peace. Peaceful protesters were asking women and children to go back into their homes as ambulances inched through the streets to get to victims who were injured in the riots.
One woman stood outside her house near a car that had been set on fire. She states:
This is what you have from years and years of police brutality and abuse in this city. It’s just now boiling over.
The protests against violence by the police department in Baltimore brought gang members from the Crips, the Bloods and the Black Guerrilla Family streets gangs together. Some wore bandanas to cover their faces. One member of the Crips who said his name was Charles claimed the gang members were in the streets of Baltimore because “there is only so far that you can push people into a corner. We’re frustrated and that’s why we’re out there in the streets.”
Charles detailed incidences where he and the Bloods had stood outside of stores owned by black residents of the city to protect them from looters or vandalism. The gang members ensured that black children and reporters remained safe from rioters. He stated the rioters were shifted to stores owned by Chinese and Arab families instead.
I rolled over here on a truck and I was the only Crip and everybody else was Bloods. And they didn’t do anything to me. We’re together in this.