Complete turmoil struck the streets of Baltimore after the funeral of Freddy Gray on Monday. The 25-year-old’s service was attended by approximately 2,500 people, and when it was over, over 1,000 people gathered near city hall and began to riot. The city has declared a state of emergency.
Pictures surfaced of police cars, a local CVS, and a nursing home all burning after reportedly being set ablaze by locals. Rioters were said to have looted local stores and were seen throwing rocks at vehicles and police. Officers were lined up with shields and helmets ready to fend off aggravated protesters. They used pepper spray on – and hurled projectiles at – those who they felt were a threat.
Reportedly, 15 police officers have been injured with broken bones, gashes from being hit with rocks, and other damages. Two have apparently been hospitalized and in critical condition. Over 200 people have been arrested thus far.
Captain Eric Kowalczyk of the Baltimore Police Department called the downtown area a “war zone” and said that tear gas and rubber bullets will be used on rioters.
“We have officers deployed throughout the city and will continue to keep the city safe,” said Kowalczyk. “Our officers our working appropriately to arrest those who without provocation attack out police officers.”
“I have seven injured officers, one is unresponsive and some have broken bones. This is not okay. We will find the people responsible and put them in jail,” he said, before adding, “This is a lawless group of individuals.”
Gray was arrested on April 12 by six officers after he saw police and began running, according to police reports. The officers were seen dragging him into a van while he screamed in agony. It was later found that Gray’s vertebrae had been broken, and the police failed to promptly call for medical assistance. It is believed that law enforcement officials brutalized him, but the root of his injury has not yet been confirmed. He died a week after his arrest.
Gray’s family did not appreciate the rioters overshadowing their loved one’s day of remembrance. They even offered to help clean up the city after the riots cease.
“I think the violence is wrong,” Gray’s twin sister, Fredericka Gray, said later in the chaotic day. “I don’t like it at all.”
Meanwhile, the daughter of slain and unarmed victim of police brutality Eric Garner was empathetic toward the protesters.
“They don’t know what else to do. They don’t have no [sic] jobs, they don’t have proper schooling. These kids have no hope. I’m not condoning what they are doing but they think ‘eventually this is going to happen to me, I’m going to be killed by police’, so they’re making themselves heard,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon after attending Gray’s service.
She added, “Burning down the city is not right but what other choice do we have. We’re scared.”