Protests surrounding the fatal injury of a 25-year-old black man while in Baltimore police custody have descended into chaos that has injured 15 cops.
The situation grew so violent that the governor of Maryland declared Baltimore to be in a state of emergency Monday evening and is calling in the National Guard.
“The National Guard represents a last resort in order to restore order,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a press conference Monday night.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a Monday night press conference that the city is instituting a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Fifteen police officers have been injured and two are still hospitalized, and many of the people who injured them were school-age kids, officials said. At least 27 people had been arrested.
“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,” she said in the press conference.
In an unusual occurrence, Monday night’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox has been postponed because of the violence.
The demonstrations turned violent over the weekend as protesters swarmed the streets and destroyed buildings while venting anger over the suspicious death of Freddie Grey. Those protests have now crossed the line into anarchy.
Police confirmed during an afternoon press conference that one of the seven officers who’s been injured is unresponsive.
Multiple police vehicles have also been torched, and people have thrown bricks and bottles at police vehicles with officers inside. One group tried to cut the fire department’s hoses as it extinguished a fire.
Mobs have gathered at multiple locations around the city including a shopping mall about one mile west of downtown.
The violent crowds are throwing bottles, bricks, and rocks at cops, according to police department tweets. They’re also destroying and looting buildings, including a CVS, which protesters lit on fire, according to CNN.
CVS has closed some local locations as a result.
Due to nearby protest activity, we’ve closed some stores in Baltimore. No customers or employees have been harmed.
— CVS/pharmacy (@CVS_Extra) April 27, 2015
State police have been deployed to the city as authorities confirm the injured cops suffered injuries like broken bones, according to NBC News. Some reports estimate that over 1,000 officers are heading into the city.
Freddie Grey died a week after his spine was somehow partially severed in police custody. He was initially stopped because he fled upon noticing officers, who later found a knife clipped to his pocket. Mobile phone video shows police dragging Grey into a van. When officers took him out, they had to rush him to the hospital.
His funeral was today, further sparking the city-wide demonstrations. The escalation comes as authorities revealed they feared street gangs would team up to “take out” officers.
Monday’s protests began just after 3:00 p.m. and turned violent within half an hour, according to reports. They were organised around a series of memes and fliers calling for a high school “purge” to start at the Mondawmin shopping mall, according to the Baltimore Sun.
A line of police in riot gear has taken shape at the entrance to the mall’s parking lot keeping people from entering, according to television news reports.
At least one journalist has claimed to have been hit by a rubber bullet. Police have also reportedly been firing tear gas into the crowds. Another reporter was attacked and injured by the angry mobs, and was reportedly taken away by ambulance.
Fears over the potential for crowds to become violent forced the closure earlier Monday afternoon of several downtown businesses and offices including the Lexington Market, a city courthouse, T. Rowe Price and the law firm Venable LLP, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
The unrest comes after a weekend during which an angry mob protesting outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards forced the team to close the stadium to keep people inside safe from the violence. The stadium’s gates were once again shuttered Monday night only 90 minutes before a scheduled game versus the Chicago White Sox.
A photojournalist for Reuters and one for the Baltimore City Paper were also thrown to the ground by police and detained while covering the protests Saturday, according to the Sun. Local businesses such as McDonald’s and several 7-Eleven stores have also reportedly been looted and destroyed in the demonstrations.
The raw video shows thousands of protesters taking to the streets of Baltimore on Saturday.
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