Baltimore riots prompt state of emergency after Freddie Gray funeral
Mayor calls rioters 'thugs' trying to destroy 'what so many have fought for'
Baltimore erupted in violence on Monday as hundreds of rioters looted stores, set buildings on fire and injured at least 15 police officers following the funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died after he was injured in police custody.
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The riots broke out just a few blocks from the funeral of Freddie Gray and then spread through much of West Baltimore in the most violent U.S. demonstrations since looting in Ferguson, Mo, last year.
Hogan said at a Monday evening news conference that what started out as a peaceful protest expressing legitimate concerns about how Gray died and how police handled his arrest had turned ugly with the help of "outside agitators" and no longer had anything to do with the earlier expressions of outrage over Gray's death.
"This is lawless gangs of thugs causing damage to property and injuring innocent people," Hogan said. "We're not going to tolerate that."
"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," Rawlings-Blake said in a Tuesday evening news conference.
5,000 additional officers requested
Rawlings-Blake said "every resource possible" would be deployed to gain control of the situation. The state police requested 5,000 additional law enforcement officers to help get the situation under control.
They soon spread to other parts of the city of 662,000 people 64 kilometres from the U.S. capital. By 6:30 p.m. ET, a CVS pharmacy that had been looted was on fire and police, who initially showed restrained, moved to arrest some of those ransacking businesses and damaging vehicles and property.
Fifteen officers were injured, police said, and two remained in hospital Monday evening. Police had vowed earlier in the day to arrest those who "without provocation attacked our police officers" but would not say Monday evening exactly how many people had been arrested.
Gray's family late Monday condemned the violence.
"I think the violence is wrong," said Fredericka Gray, his sister. "I don't like it at all."
Rawlings-Blake and local councillors condemned the notion that the rioters had anything to do with earlier peaceful protests in support of Gray.
"It is idiotic to think that by destroying your city you're going to make life better for anybody," the mayor said.
"These are thugs who are seizing upon an opportunity," he said.
"This is unacceptable. This is not what Freddie Gray's family wanted."
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President Barack Obama was briefed on the violence in Baltimore by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and spoke with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Smashed ATM tonight in northwest Baltimore. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbc?src=hash">#cbc</a> <a href="http://t.co/egN3AD4FYl">pic.twitter.com/egN3AD4FYl</a>—@paulhuntercbc
Hogan said he had spoken with Obama and that the president "endorsed the action we're taking tonight." He said the attorney general, who was sworn in on Monday, would be coming to Baltimore.
"I condemn the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace in the city of Baltimore," Lynch said in a statement.
"I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence."
Rioters sack businesses, burn vehicles
Some demonstrators carried signs reading "Justice 4 Freddie Gray," but many said the riots had little to do with Gray or what his family wanted.
"It is disappointing just a few hours after putting Gray to rest," said Reverend Jamal Bryant, who spoke at the funeral. "This is not what the family asked for today of all days. This was a day of sacred closure."
Kowalczyk had warned earlier in the day that police would use "appropriate methods to ensure that we're able to preserve the safety of that community," including tear gas and pepper balls.
The Baltimore Police Department's Twitter feed provided regular updates of the movements of the protesters, who, police said, were damaging vehicles and property, setting cars on cutting firehoses being used to put out a fire.
Many of the tweets described rioters as "aggressive and violent."
Earlier in the day, Kowalczyk described the instigators of the violence as "lawless individuals with no regard for the safety of the people that live in the community."
Get out and defend your neighbourhood, councillor urges
Councillor Brandon M. Scott also dismissed the rioters as thugs and urged the city's upstanding citizens to "get out there and stand tall and stand up for your neighbourhood."
"I am simply pissed off," he said at a joint press conference with the mayor. "This is the city that I love. This is the city that I chose to dedicate my life to. We cannot stand idle and let thugs, whatever you want to call them, I don't even say they're thugs – we're just going to call them cowards – ruin our city.
"If you are an adult and you're out there participating in this, you are ruining the future for these young people."
Gray's family, pastors and city officials had pleaded for peaceful demonstrations after some arrests and injuries at protests over the weekend.
Speaker after speaker before the crowd packing the 2,500-seat New Shiloh Baptist Church said the world was watching to see if justice would be done for Gray.
With files from CBC News