Violence, looting, and buildings in flames followed Freddie Gray’s funeral, the 25 year old African-American man who died after being arrested for reasons still unknown.
The US city of Baltimore has declared a state of emergency after protests over his death spilled into violence.
Freddie Gray’s death on April 19 leaves many unanswered questions. It is clear, however, that when Gray was arrested in West Baltimore on the morning of April 12, he was struggling to walk. By the time he arrived at the police station half an hour later, he was unable to breathe or talk, suffering from wounds that would kill him.
In an angry response to his death, mass rioting and clashes with the police broke out on Monday in Baltimore.
Calling for calm in a televised statement, President Obama said Gray’s family “Understandably want answers,” however, “there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive.”
Reports from US news sources say an officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. Eyewitnesses say the officer dragged, “folded”, and beat him before detaining him. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain, and within an hour, his larynx was damaged and his spine was mostly severed. A week later, on 19 April 2015, he was dead.
Three days after Gray’s death, hundreds of peaceful protesters rallied in Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department suspended six officers with pay pending an investigation of the 25 year-old’s death. “We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.
The reaction to the death has drawn parallels to the response to Michael Brown’s shooting last year. Activists cite that this is an uprising against the controversial uses of force by police officers in the US.
On 25 April, marches in downtown Baltimore turned violent as protesters looted, threw rocks and set fires to government property. At least 34 people were arrested and 15 officers were injured. Two days later, rioting and looting began after Gray’s funeral with two patrol cars destroyed and 15 officers reportedly injured.
In reaction to the unrest, the Maryland State Police sent 82 troopers to protect the paralysed city.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri