Riot-gear clad police officers clashed with rock-throwing protesters Monday and several officers were injured as rioters threw bricks and stones and burned patrol cars in violent protests after the funeral of a black man who died in police custody
Rioters plunged parts of Baltimore into chaos Monday, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officers hours after thousands mourned the man who died from a severe spinal injury he suffered in police custody.
A CCTV America cameraman was roughed up by five men while he was shooting looting taking place at a closed Baltimore shopping mall. He was also hit in the head with an object and the men ran away with his news camera.
“I was shooting looting going on, people bringing boxes across the street, and they caught up with me and started hammering me with punches,” the cameraman said to CCTV America’s Jim Spellman.
With blood dripping down his forehead and face, the cameraman said that he was okay.
“I’m okay I probably need to be checked out, they took the camera. The camera is gone,” the cameraman said.
The cameraman is now receiving medical attention.
Several other journalists were also hurt in the riots and police response.
CCTV’s Jim Spellman is in the middle of the riots in Baltimore, Maryland
CCTV’s Jim Spellman is in the middle of the riots in Baltimore, MarylandCCTV’s Jim Spellman is in the middle of the riots in Baltimore, Maryland
The governor declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to restore order. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake imposed a curfew, and said “thugs” trying to tear down city, incite violence. A weeklong, daily curfew was imposed beginning Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the mayor said.
Police said 15 officers have been injured and two remained hospitalized. Officers wearing helmets and wielding shields occasionally used pepper spray to keep the rioters back. For the most part, though, they relied on line formations.
Police said about two dozen protesters had been arrested.
Monday’s riot was the latest flare-up over the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, whose fatal encounter with officers came amid the national debate over police use of force, especially when black suspects are involved. Gray was African-American.
Emergency officials were constantly thwarted as they tried to restore calm. Firefighters trying to put out a blaze at a drug store were hindered by someone who sliced holes in a hose connected to a fire hydrant, spraying water all over the street and nearby buildings.
The smell of burned rubber wafted in the air in one neighborhood where youths were looting a liquor store. Police stood still nearby as people drank looted alcohol. Glass and trash littered the streets, and small fires were scattered about.
“Too many people have spent generations 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, tearing down businesses, tearing down and destroying property, things that we know will impact our community for years,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a lifelong resident of the city.
Gray’s family was shocked by the violence and was lying low; instead, they hoped to organize a peace march later in the week, said family attorney Billy Murphy. He said they did not know the riot was going to happen and urged calm.
“They don’t want this movement nationally to be marred by violence,” he said. “It makes no sense.”
Police urged parents to locate their children and bring them home. Many of those on the streets appeared to be African-American youths, wearing backpacks and khaki pants that are a part of many public school uniforms.
Later in the day, people began looting clothing and other items from stores at the mall, which became unprotected as police moved away from the area. About three dozen officers returned, trying to arrest looters but driving many away by firing pellet guns and rubber bullets.
Many who had never met Gray gathered earlier in the day in a Baltimore church to bid him farewell and press for more accountability among law enforcement. The 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist church was filled with mourners. But even the funeral could not ease mounting tensions.
Police said in a news release sent while the funeral was underway that the department had received a “credible threat” that three notoriously violent gangs are now working together to “take out” law enforcement officers.
The riots broke out just a few blocks from the site of the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in northwest Baltimore and then spread through other parts of the city, after local law enforcement warned of a threat by gangs.
“It’s a large group of people spread out over a pretty significant area. Our officers are deploying as quickly as they can. Our primary concerns right now is making sure that our officers stay safe,” Baltimore Police Spokesman Captain Eric Kowalczyk said. “We have seven officers who were injured during the course this. They have broken bones. One of them is unresponsive. This is not ok.”
Six Baltimore police officers involved in Gray’s arrest have been suspended during the investigation into the exact cause of his death, according to the AP.
Matthew Durington from Towson University on the riots in Baltimore
For more on the riots in Baltimore and concerns over police brutality, CCTV America interviewed Matthew Durington, an anthropology professor from Towson University.
Matthew Durington from Towson University on the riots in BaltimoreFor more on the riots in Baltimore and concerns over police brutality, CCTV America interviewed Matthew Durington, an anthropology professor from Towson University.
Too many people have invested in building up this city to allow thugs to tear it down. pic.twitter.com/bGjT5ru5cy
— Mayor Rawlings-Blake (@MayorSRB) April 28, 2015
Reporting by Reuters