Happening now in Northwest Baltimore not too far from Mondawmin Mall, groups of young school aged protestors are rioting and engaging police. Two police cars are currently engulfed in flames. Seven police officers have been injured with one unconscious and one listed as having broken bones. Police are loading suspects into vans and talking them into custody, according to ABC News.
The violence erupted on the day of the wake of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man arrested and who eventually died on April 19 with still unexplained fatal injuries incurred while in police custody. Gray’s fatal injury was a severed spinal cord according to WBAL-TV in Baltimore. It’s still not clear whether or not the violence erupting now is connected to earlier protests surrounding Gray’s death.
For now, businesses, colleges and public transportation in the area of the mall are closing in response to the violence in the surrounding Mondawmin neighborhoods. Agitators in the crowd are now throwing sticks, rocks, bricks and bottles at the police and police vehicles. Many of the law enforcement officials are now in riot gear. Church leaders are saying that the violence is disrespectful to the Gray family on the day of Freddie’s wake and are asking the protesters to just go home.
Earlier today, the Baltimore Police Department received what they perceived as a credible threat that various local gangs including the Black Guerilla Family, Crips and Bloods are forging a partnership to “take out” law enforcement officers. The Baltimore Police Department just announced via their Facebook page that “We have been able to get our injured officers out of the area and they are now receiving medical treatment.”
Smoke is still billowing from the burning police cars. Police and a crowd of protestors are still in the area. Police officers are holding a line and glass bottles are still being thrown and shattered. One CVS store in the area is now being looted and was later set on fire. The Baltimore Police Department just tweeted, “we are asking for PARENTS to please bring your children home. We don’t want to see anyone get hurt.”
This just in, a release from the Maryland State Police:
At the request of the Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland State Police sent 42 troopers to Baltimore early this afternoon. At 4:00 p.m. today, another 40 troopers were ordered to duty and will be deploying to Baltimore early this evening to join the troopers already there. Troopers are being deployed where needed at the direction of Baltimore Police Department commanders.
As of 6:23 p.m., Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is closely monitoring the situation and has placed the National Guard on alert. The Baltimore Orioles game scheduled for tonight at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Orioles Park at Camden Yards has been postponed.
Reportedly, President Barack Obama has been in touch with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake committing whatever support she may need from the White House. Currently, the violence and looting have moved from West Baltimore into center city Baltimore near the Inner Harbor.
Tear gas has been deployed. It was reported at 7 p.m. that the National Guard has now been activated.
At 7:45 p.m. it was being reported that Mondawmin Mall which closed at 3 p.m. following the initial bout of violence in that area is now being looted. Looters can be seen running in and out of the stores. Police said they had reports of several people inside the mall, looting and destroying property, according to Fox News in Baltimore.
You can watch live coverage of the situation in Baltimore here. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is now delivering a press conference live.
Rawlings-Blake announced at the press conference that beginning tomorrow a city wide curfew will go into effect from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. That curfew will last for one week and be extended as necessary. Rawlings-Blake referred to the rioters as thugs.
All Police leave has been cancelled. The priorities of the Baltimore Police Department are to restore order and safeguard citizens. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is also expected to speak soon live.
Hogan stated that a state of emergency has been declared allowing him to activate the National Guard, who will be working to help keep the peace and restore order in a support capacity. Hogan said that if needed, he had access to about 5,000 National Guard troops.
Following the Governor’s press conference, Fox News in Baltimore reported that an enormous and raging fire had just erupted in East Baltimore. It was announced around 9:12 p.m. that Baltimore City schools will be closed on Tuesday, April 28.