On the cover of today’s The Baltimore Sun, the bold headline read “Peace, Then Violence” as if some kind of secret arrangement was made amongst protestors in support of Freddie Gray’s justice. While protestors had been marching just days before, yesterday’s peaceful walk had turned belligerent. Their effort was disrupted by a smaller group of non-peaceful individuals who roughed up and damaged public and private property, including cars, and looted stores after a huge confrontation with police in riot gear tried to halt the protest from continuing on.
The#BaltimoreProtests are supposed to be non-violent demonstrations for recently deceased local Freddie Gray. Gray had died from a mysterious spinal cord injury while being arrested for suspicion of weapon possession on April 12. Reports alleged that the cops had taken too long to get him medical treatment. As a result, he died a week later on April 19. The young African-American male was only 25-years-old.
Reportedly, the violent aspect of the march on April 25, scheduled from 3-5 P.M., came from “outside agitators” around 6 P.M. CNN reported that when the march was halted by a line of cops was the exact moment the calm walk erupted into a war zone. Soon confusion and anger took over the streets.
Those in the area documented the unrest as raw clips appeared unto Vine and Twitpics showed a city falling apart. The riots even had Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox fans momentarily stuck inside Oriole Park in Camden Yards after a game. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had asked for fans to wait for fear of more people getting hurt or riled up by the abrupt violence that was nearby.
The unrest made headlines nationwide, as outlets sensationalized the uproar. On social media, some Internet memes even compared the imagery of young people versus cops to the infamous Baltimore riots of 1968.
When the violent atmosphere finally relented, Baltimore Police commissioner Anthony Batts acknowledged “the peacemakers” of the rally, stating that “Residents put themselves in between police officers and agitated crowd and asked for calm and asked for peace, which was very good to see.”
But plenty of demonstrators remain upset. Saturday afternoon was meant to be a moment for the city coming together. It’s not like America needed another reminder of Baltimore’s tempestuous reputation as a city of hard knocks.
One peaceful protester told CBS Baltimore: “We have a long history of police brutality. It doesn’t justify it all but what you got here is a lot of youthful energy that needs to be channeled but that is no justification for throwing bottles.”
Another commented: “I’m mad as hell. We don’t want to burn anything down.”
Later that day, Freddie’s twin sister commented at a press conference, asking for everyone to stop acting our their anger: “My family wants to say, can y’all please, please stop the violence?#Freddie Gray would not want this. Freddie’s father and mother do not want violence. Violence does not get justice, thank you.” Twelve arrests have made recorded so far, directly stemming from yesterday riots.
Another peaceful protest was planned for today, but it remains uncertain if it will go as scheduled considering Saturday’s march was marred by destruction and violence.