As Freddie Gray’s funeral took place today and thousands sent their condolences in the hopes that he could rest in peace, unrest ripped through the streets of Baltimore. Peaceful protests that started last week took a violent turn today. According to reports, some citizens took to the streets to loot, start fires, throw rocks, vandalize property and vehicles, and clash with police. Things took such a left turn that not only was a state of emergency declared, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was compelled to put in place a week-long curfew for residents. The curfew is set to start on Tuesday at 10 p.m. with people being forced to stay off the streets until 5 a.m.
According to reports, 15 officers were injured in the day’s melee, and more than 30 arrests were made so far. Rawlings-Blake made it clear that the violence would not be tolerated.
“Too many people have spent a generation 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.”
Rawlings-Blake also stated that the Maryland National Guard, activated by Gov. Larry Hogan, would be brought in to help keep control of the areas in Baltimore that have been hit with the most unrest. According to reports, up to 5,000 troops are available for the state to use.
Video captured by those on the scene have shown a lot of violence between police and citizens, as well as people cutting fire hoses as firefighters tried to put out flames, and emergency responding vehicles being hit with glass bottles and set on fire. Tear gas has been used by police, as well as pepper spray in an attempt to debilitate large crowds.
Leaders in Baltimore are asking for calm, and some are even asking parents to take responsibility for the young people who have been photographed and recorded taking part in the unrest.
And according to the Los Angeles Times, all the young people seen in the middle of the confusion could be there due to an alleged flier circulated by Baltimore students via social media calling for a “purge.” Similar to the film The Purge, where laws were suspended for people to commit heinous crimes, the flier allegedly encouraged chaos. Police are even claiming that they received a “credible threat” from three gangs (Crips, Bloods and the Black Guerilla Family) banding together to “take out” law enforcement.
Sadly, this confusion doesn’t seem to have much to do with Gray at all, who died on April 19 from a severed spine a week after he was videotaped being arrested by police. Gray was seen being dragged into a police van, clearly in excruciating pain. While some are acting as though they’re creating anarchy out of anger over what happened to Gray, those who actually knew and loved him, his family, are asking for nothing but peace.