Baltimore Blazes In Protest: State Of Emergency, National Guards Deployed
28 April 2015
Baltimore blazes in protest. Schools, businesses and train stations have been shut down in the city notorious for poverty and unemployment. A state of emergency has been declared and National Guards have been deployed. Two dozen people were arrested. The protests erupted in violent force after funeral of a 25-year black man who died after he was injured in police custody.
Enraged people hurled bricks, looted businesses and set fires in Baltimore on Monday in violence that injured at least seven police officers following the funeral of the black man who died. Protesters ransacked shops and trashed police vehicles. Other cars were set on fire.
National Guard troops fanned out through the city, shield-bearing police officers blocked the streets and firefighters doused still-simmering blazes early Tuesday as a growing area of Baltimore shuddered from riots following the funeral of a black man who died in police custody.
Media reports from the U.S. said:
The disturbances broke out just a few blocks from the funeral of Freddie Gray and then spread through parts of Baltimore in the most violent U.S. demonstrations since looting in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Part of Baltimore was plunged into chaos
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in the port city of 662,000 people 40 miles (64 km) from the nation's capital and activated the National Guard as firefighters tried to extinguish fires set by protesters with baseball bats. A weeklong, daily curfew was imposed beginning Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Authorities were struggling to quell pockets of unrest.
Gray's death on April 19 reignited a public outcry over police treatment of African-Americans that flared last year after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, New York City and elsewhere.
After more than an hour of mayhem, hundreds of police moved into glass-strewn streets that witnessed the worst of the violence. Police used pepper spray on protesters. A part of the demonstrators sacked check-cashing and liquor stores.
Police helicopters buzzed overhead while protesters cut a fire department hose. Local and state police in riot gear struggled to restore order as the rioters veered off in different directions, refusing to heed dispersal orders. Earlier, firefighters fought a fire at a CVS pharmacy looted. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said authorities had had a "very trying and disappointing day."
The violence that started in West Baltimore on Monday afternoon — within a mile of where Freddie Gray was arrested and placed into a police van earlier this month — had by midnight spread to East Baltimore and neighborhoods close to downtown and near the baseball stadium.
"All this had to happen, people getting tired of the police killing the young black guys for no reason. ... It is a sad day but it had to happen," said Tony Luster, 40, who is on disability and was out on the street watching the police line.
Wary of violent clashes between black youths and police, pastors and community leaders moved into the area to try to calm tensions. Gray's family had pleaded for peaceful demonstrations.
Thousands had converged on New Shiloh Baptist church in Baltimore's poverty-ridden Sandtown neighborhood earlier Monday to pay final respects to Gray.
"Today of all days, the family was clear this was a day of sacred closure," pastor Jamal Bryant of the city's Empowerment Temple mega-church, who delivered the eulogy, told reporters as the violence spiraled.
"So 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."
At the funeral, Gray's body was in a white casket. Crowds swayed to hymns at the service, chanting, "Justice shall prevail, peace will prevail" in the church, where a photo of Gray -- -- was displayed among floral wreaths.
Fear of unrest prompted the University of Maryland's downtown campus, corporate offices and the city's famous Lexington Market to shut down early.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the rapidly evolving situation by his newly sworn in Attorney General Loretta Lynch and city mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the White House said.
On Saturday, 34 people were arrested, and six police officers injured, when violence erupted after an orderly rally for Gray outside Baltimore city hall.
Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson denounced the "epidemic of murders in the country." "We have become too violent, too full of hate," Jackson told reporters before the service. "We need training, employment, housing, access to health, a reconstruction project. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction."
Gray's arrest was caught on video by bystanders, and he can be heard howling in apparent pain as his limp body is dragged into the van. Police confirmed Gray requested medical help and an inhaler after he was detained and acknowledged that he should have received medical attention sooner.
Six officers have been suspended with pay pending the outcome of a police investigation that is to be submitted to state prosecutors by Friday.
The US Justice Department, which was already looking into Baltimore's use of force, has also opened its own civil rights probe.
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and about 200 others, including ministers, tried unsuccessfully to quell the violence at one point Monday night, marching arm-in-arm through a neighborhood littered with broken glass, flattened aluminum cans and other debris. As they got close to a line of police officers, the marchers went down on their knees. They then rose to their feet and walked until they were face-to-face with the police officers in a tight formation and wearing riot gear.
Monday's riot was the latest flare-up over the death of Gray and came amid a national debate over police use of force following the high-profile deaths of several black men in encounters with police — from the Brown death in Ferguson to the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina.
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