Article by Luke Carberry Mogan | esPResso Staff Writer
This past week the city of Baltimore has been in turmoil after the streets were filled with riots following the death of Freddie Gray, allegedly a result of police brutality. Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American Baltimore native, was arrested on April 12 by Baltimore police after several accounts establish him as fleeing from them. The officers apprehended and excessively restrained Gray before bringing him in to the police station. On April 19, after becoming apparent that he suffered a major spinal cord injury while in police custody, Gray fell into a coma and died.
The following Saturday, April 25, protesters started to organize. Within the group of peaceful marchers, another more violent group formed and began throwing rocks at law enforcement vehicles. In response to the different crowds of protesters, the Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake responded, “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected… we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate,” according to a NBC News Report. The article from NBC also reports that many misinterpreted the mayor’s statement, believing her to have let the violent protesters destroy property.
While the riots were breaking out throughout the city, The Baltimore Orioles advised attendants of the Orioles-Red Sox game to stay in the stadium for their own safety. The following Monday the Orioles series against the White Sox was postponed due to the escalating events. The Orioles’ Chief Operating Officer John P. Angelos issued this statement:
“My greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy…The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, an ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever.”
The series of violence reached its peak on April 27, the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral. Baltimore police picked up word of a possible “purge” or riot, which was organized through Twitter according to The Huffington Post. High schools and malls were closed early as law enforcement officials inspected students on school buses. University of Maryland, Baltimore County closed its campus at 2 p.m. That night violence broke out between the police and protesters, resulting in a CVS Pharmacy, among other stores and shops, being looted and burned, according to the New York Times.
Tension in the Baltimore community continued to grow with the arrival of the National Guard, issued by Governor Larry Hogan, calling a state of emergency into effect. According the ABC News, Hogan supported his actions by responding, “The National Guard represents the last resort in restoring order… I have not made this decision lightly.”
As told by CBS Baltimore, 98 officers have been injured in the protests with 43 needing emergency medical attention and 95 individuals have been detained and charged for their involvement. The New York Times reports that Baltimore’s chief prosecutor has charged the six police officers responsible for Freddie Gray’s fatal injuries. Protestors rejoiced in this moment of justice, but it remains unknown if the announcement will alleviate the social unrest that Baltimore has only just started to address.