Riots in Baltimore

 

Looters with their stolen goods

Looters with their stolen goods

 

 

A city  in which there had been no riots for 47 years became the site of  looting, arson, and general disorderliness  Monday (April 27) afternoon.

The rioting was triggered by the funeral of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, who was arrested on April 12 and while in police custody suffered a severe spinal cord  injury from which he died on April 19.  There had been peaceful protests  in the city during the week prior to his funeral, but on Saturday night, a forewarning of Monday’s violence occurred  when some of the protestors got into a scuffle with  police.

Gray’s funeral service was held at 11:00 AM Monday in the 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist Church which was filled with mourners. A few hours later peace and calm would be replaced by commotion and disorder.

According to the Baltimore Sun, a meme (flyer on social media) called for a “purge” at 3:00 PM – the time that students were dismissed from schools. The idea of a purge comes from a movie by that title; the plot is about a society that each year suspends all laws for a 24-hour period. People began arriving at the Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore shortly after 3:00 PM and by 3:30 PM police were also gathering in the streets. By 3:40 PM protestors were confronting policemen. By 4:00 PM policemen were on the run.

Angry rioters threw bottles, rocks and chunks of concrete at police who were lined up in riot gear. Cars, including cop cars, were set on fire; store windows were shattered; a CVS Pharmacy was looted and later burned; an ATM machine was attacked; stores were broken into and cases of food and water taken out; a café inside an Italian deli was destroyed; a liquor store was set on fire and cinder blocks were thrown at fire trucks as firefighters tried to douse the flames. The Baltimore Orioles – Chicago White Sox baseball game was postponed. Having been warned by police, area businesses and the Univ. of Maryland’s downtown campus had closed early.

Pastor Jamal Bryant, who delivered Gray’s Eulogy, came back to the neighborhood and pleaded for calm. “This is not what the family asked for,” he said; “This is absolutely inexcusable.”  Gray’s mother, Gloria Darden, also appealed for peace. “I want you all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here. Don’t tear up the whole city just for him,” she said; “It’s wrong.” Gray’s twin sister Fredericka agreed. She said, “I think the violence is wrong. I don’t like it at all.”

The riot started in West Baltimore but spread to East Baltimore. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake established a 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM curfew  to begin on Tuesday. Public schools were closed  for Tuesday. Around 7:00 PM the Mayor called Governor Larry Hogan who took immediate action and declared a State of Emergency. He has temporarily moved his office to Baltimore City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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