After the shocking death of 25-year old Freddie Gray, Baltimore exploded in an series of protests that ended up in violence on Monday evening. Therefore, the National Guard was deployed in Baltimore to calm the crowds, but at the moment, the situation is still quite tense.
Freddie Gray became a symbol of police violence against the African American community after he mysteriously died while in police custody. It is precisely the fact that it is still unknown to the public how Gray sustained his lethal injury that fueled the protests in Baltimore.
The only details released to the public are the fact that Freddie Gray, a known figure to the Baltimore Police for offenses such as possession and distribution of narcotics, was arrested after locking eyes with a policeman and trying to run away from him.
Despite the fact that looking at a policeman and even running away from one are not actual crimes, the police are yet to offer a proper explanation for their arrest. But it is after he was picked up and put inside a police van that the tragedy came to pass.
While inside the van, Freddie Gray was handcuffed and was applied leg cuffs as well, because, as police related, he had gotten irritated, but a seat-belt was not provided for him during the ride. It is in these 45 minutes that Gray sustained a spinal injury so extensive that it lead to his death.
Police have admitted to not having called the ambulance in time; in fact, it is only for not providing a seat-belt and not calling for medical assistance in time that the police has admitted guilt. When they did call for the paramedics, it seems that it was already too late, because Freddie Gray died soon after.
His injury was so extensive that his spine was almost severed. And it is under peculiar circumstances that this has happened. It has been mentioned by the police that Gray was subjected to a “rough ride”, but his death cannot appear to be anything else that excessive police violence took to the extreme.
The six police officers present in the van that day were suspended with pay and this was the only measure taken to rectify this situation that the police has carried out, while still refusing to release valuable evidence, such as the recording of the call made to the ambulance. Even the tapes from security cameras that had footage of the place where the arrest was made have conveniently been taped over that same day.
Obviously, this generated a massive rage in the Baltimore population and protests began as soon as the police tried to bury the subject as soon as possible. “It cannot be business as usual with that man’s spine broken, with his back broken, with no justice on the scene.” plainly explained Malik Shabazz, a Black Lawyers for Justice representative.
So both black and white people were united under a banner that clearly stated “Black lives matter!”. And after a few days of overall calm protests, came Saturday, when a considerable number of people announced that they were going to join the protests and “shut down the city”. This happened after a meme was released on the internet, portraying Freddie Gray.
Saturday night ended up with a few local businesses, including a 7Eleven, being looted in order to send a message to the police. This was done by a handful of protesters, while the vast majority remained nonviolent.
Then came Sunday, when Freddie Gray’s wake took place. His twin sister, Fredericka Gray, asked for peaceful protests and explained that his brother would not have wanted any violence. And so, the people paid their respects to the late Freddie Gray, without major incidents on Sunday night.
Monday, the day of Gray’s funeral, ended up being the most violent of all. In the afternoon, school-age children engaged in clashes with the police that rendered 15 officers injured, after a flier circulated on social media among teenagers announcing a “purge” to take place at 3 P.M. starting from Mondawmin Mall to all the way downtown.
The term “purge” is a reference to the 2013 film “The Pruge”, that portrayed a fictional city where once a year, all law was set aside and all the citizens were allowed to commit any crime they wished.
The Baltimore “purge” consisted of protesters attacking officers with bricks, rocks and bottles and the police responding with tear gas and paper balls. Police cars were set on fire and a CVS drug store looted and burned. Fortunately, it had already been closed before any violence began.
The situation came to such a tense state, that the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, declared a 10:00 P.M. curfew for Tuesday and the rest of the week and declared Baltimore in a state of emergency. Therefore, she requested Governor Larry Hogan to send the National Guard to Baltimore immediately.
“I have not made this decision lightly,” the Governor explained. “The National Guard represents a last resort.”
On Tuesday some 2,000 members of the National Guard and 1,000 law enforcement officers came to Baltimore to insure that no more violence takes place. After curfew, some protesters started throwing bottles and started small fires, but the situation was dealt with swiftly.
At the moment, all officials are still asking for the violence to stop. “We need to support peaceful demonstration and continue to enforce in our communities that rioting, violence, and looting will not be tolerated in our city. Together we can be one Baltimore and seek answers as we seek justice and as we seek peace.”, said the Mayor. Moreover, it is Freddie Gray’s family that is asking for peace.
With the National Guard was deployed in Baltimore to calm the crowds, violence is expected to stop, but the people still want answers and they want the guilty to pay for what they have done to Freddie Gray. For now, Baltimore remains in a state of emergency.
Image Source: addictinginfo.org
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