After hours of peaceful protesting in Baltimore Saturday, where hundreds of people marched through the streets to contest the death of Freddie Gray, a small group of protestors clashed with police, leading reports of “violence” and “chaos” to flood the media.
According to reports, for much of the day, there were no incidents. But around 6 p.m., a small group damaged property, including police cars, and shop windows, and looted stores after a huge confrontation with police in riot gear, who tried to halt the protestors from continuing on.
CNN reported that the moment the march was halted by a line of cops was the exact moment the calm walk erupted into a war zone. Soon confusion and anger took over the streets.
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The protests were in response to the April 12 death of Baltimore man, Freddie Gray, who died from a mysterious spinal cord injury sustained in police custody after he was arrested on suspicion of weapon possession. Reports allege that the cops took too long to get him medical treatment. As a result, he died a week later on April 19. The young African-American male was only 25-years-old.
Many people at the protests documented the unrest, as raw clips appeared on Vine and Twitpics, showing the agitation that increased following the police interruption. The riots even had Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox fans momentarily stuck inside Oriole Park in Camden Yards after a game. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake intervened to ask fans to wait inside for fear of more people getting hurt or riled up by the abrupt violence that was nearby.
The unrest made headlines nationwide, as outlets sensationalized the uproar. On social media, some Internet memes even compared the imagery of young people versus cops to the infamous Baltimore riots of 1968.
When the tension in the atmosphere finally relented, Baltimore Police commissioner Anthony Batts acknowledged “the peacemakers” of the rally, stating that “Residents put themselves in between police officers and agitated crowd and asked for calm and asked for peace, which was very good to see.”
But plenty of demonstrators remain, understandably, upset. Saturday afternoon was meant to be a moment for the city coming together. And it’s not like America needed another reminder of Baltimore’s reputation as a city of hard knocks.
One peaceful protester told CBS Baltimore: “We have a long history of police brutality. It doesn’t justify it all but what you got here is a lot of youthful energy that needs to be channeled but that is no justification for throwing bottles.”
Another commented: “I’m mad as hell. We don’t want to burn anything down.”
Later that day, Gray’s twin sister spoke at a press conference, asking for everyone to stop acting our their anger: “My family wants to say, can y’all please, please stop the violence?#Freddie Gray would not want this. Freddie’s father and mother do not want violence. Violence does not get justice, thank you.”
Twelve arrests have made recorded so far, directly stemming from yesterday riots.
Another peaceful protest was planned for today, but it remains uncertain if it will go as scheduled considering Saturday’s march was marred by destruction and violence.
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