In 1968, there was a riot that lasted 8 days stemming from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In 1992, there was a riot in Los Angeles for the savage brutality perpetuated by the police against Rodney King. The riot happening now is flaring up over more unjust violence against another man. On April 12, Freddie Gray was arrested and by the time he arrived at the police station a short 30 minutes later, he could not breathe or talk. Nobody knows what really happened but people have drawn the conclusion that it happened because of violent acts towards him during that ride back to the police station. The riot overtook most of West Baltimore Monday and seriously injured several police officers. Due to a lackluster response by the government in recent controversial cases relating to police treatments of those in custody and pursuit of arrest. Protesters have become increasingly violent out of frustration and continue to ransack stores, taverns, police vehicles, and so forth.
Cars and a store ended up engulfed in flames. Smoke filled the air as police responded with shields and a tactical vehicle. A photojournalist was assaulted by demonstrators as they threw rocks, bricks, and bottles at police officers. There is a state of emergency in Maryland and the Maryland National Guard has been activated by the governor, Larry Hogan.
“Today’s looting and acts of violence in Baltimore will not be tolerated, I strongly condemn the actions of the offenders who are engaged in direct attacks against innocent civilians, businesses and law enforcement officers. There is a significant difference between protesting and violence and those committing these acts will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law.” (Larry Hogan – The Baltimore Sun)
There were some protests expected because today marks the day that Freddie Gray was to be buried and mourned. In Maryland, authorities have used the reasoning that there is a history of riots so the Baltimore to be on the edge and ready for anything, however it is clear that because of the movement #blacklivesmatter, this is just another trigger point. Of course, after recent controversial cases that have ended with a grim note, this event would have been explosive in any regard, so their line of reasoning with the history of riots happening in Baltimore is moot. The mayor, Rawlings-Blake, had stated something that protesters took out of context as permission to cause violence. Hoard Libit, her strategic planning and policy director clarified the mayor’s position. He said that she was focused on the police giving people space specifically for peaceful protests not violence. No other interpretation would be accurate. This is what the Mayor said word for word:
“I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act, because, while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also [as a result] 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 deescalate, and that’s what you saw.” (Baltimore Mayor – Rawlings-Blake)
The Police force is working on containing the riot and getting the city back in order. Captain Eric Kowalczyk told reporters, “You’re going to see tear gas… We’re going to use appropriate methods to ensure that we’re able to preserve the safety of that community.” Helicopters have circled overhead as the rioters moved through the city.
Gray’s family is shocked by the violence and had been hoping to organize a peace march later in the week and had no idea that the riot was being planned. (Billy Murphy – family attorney) At his funeral, Reverend Jamal Bryant said, “Freddie’s death is not in vain, after this day, we’re going to keep on marching. After this day, we’re going to keep demanding justice.”