Violent riots erupted overnight in Baltimore, Maryland in response to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died one week after his arrest by police. The protests began after Gray’s funeral yesterday, and grew violent, attracting large crowds who looted stores, burned cars and buildings and threw rocks and bricks at police.
Fox 8 reports that 15 police officers were injured in the riots, some critically. At least 144 cars and 15 buildings were burned, including a community center that was under construction for youth and families.
At the same time, over 100 of Baltimore’s clergy members marched in the city urging peace. WBALTV reporter Deborah Weiner walked with the church leaders as they blocked police officers from thrown projectiles and reasoned with protesters. Weiner reported the clergy members said they have failed the young people of Baltimore.
In response to the violence, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard. 500 state troopers were also called to duty and Hogan has asked neighboring states to send in reinforcements.
Schools were closed Tuesday (April 28) and a curfew will be in place for the rest of the week. No citizens will be permitted on the streets between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they are travelling to work or seeking emergency medical attention.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake condemned the violent acts in a press conference.
"Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for. It is idiotic to think that by destroying your city that you’re gonna make life better for anybody,” she said.
Gray’s family also condemned the riots, stating that the violence would not grant justice for the young man.
“I want y’all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here,” Gray’s mother said in a statement.
Gray’s twin sister Fredericka said, “I don’t think that’s for Freddie. I think the violence is wrong.”
Fox News reports much of the protesting was started by young people who launched a “purge” movement on social media. The term, based on a 2013 movie, “The Purge,” refers to one night in which no one abides by laws.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said in a press conference, “This is not protesting. This is not your first amendment rights. This is just criminal acts doing damage to a community that is challenged in some ways that not need this.”
The protests sparked criticism online, as well as a call for prayer.
Publication date: April 28, 2015