Protestors hurled cinder blocks at the police, set cars ablaze and looted businesses after the peaceful demonstration in Baltimore turned violent following the funeral of Freddie Gray – the 25-year-old black man who sustained fatal spinal cord injury in police custody earlier this month.
The riots broke out near Gray’s funeral and quickly spread throughout the city, resulting in severe clashes between the protestors and the police, who deployed tear gas and pepper spray to subdue the agitators. The rioters pelted the shield- and baton-wielding cops with bottles and rocks.
More than a dozen police officers were injured and several suffered broken bones during the most violent demonstrations in the country since the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard, who started arriving in the city overnight. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake branded the agitators as “thugs” and said that every possible resource was being deployed to "gain control of this situation."
A mandatory curfew has also been imposed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, effective for one week starting Tuesday.
While the rioters continue to spread chaos in the name of seeking justice for Freddie Gray, the deceased’s family has condemned the unrest.
“I want y'all to get justice for my son, but don't do it like this here,” Gray’s mother told the journalists. Fredericka, his twin sister, also deprecated the violent clashes, saying, “I don't think that's for Freddie. I think the violence is wrong.”
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts believes many of the agitators to be high school students.
“I think they thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at police,” he added.
More than two dozen people have already been arrested, according to the Baltimore Police Department.
While violence certainly doesn’t seem to be the right approach to demand justice for the unlawful death of Freddie Gray, the continuation of police-involved deaths of African-American citizens has created a deep void of distrust and animosity between the two groups.