Protests break out in Baltimore due to the death of a 25 year old African American, Freddie Gray, who was held in police custody where he suffered spinal injuries and died one week later. What started as a peaceful rally gradually escalated into a violent riot.
Peaceful marches were held before his death on April 19th, until April 25th where the situation shifted and a small minority started to convert the marches into violent riots. As a consequence, police intervention was necessary and 35 people were arrested. Due to the aggressiveness of the protestors, 9 million dollars are needed to repair the damages.
The death of Freddie Gray is the latest in a series of black Americans who were killed by police officers. Last August, Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Wilson in Ferguson. Another recent case occurred in Staten Island, where Eric Garner was wrestled to the ground by a police officer; providing some explanation to the reactions taking place in Baltimore. These circumstances nurture a negative discourse among the American public and creates frustrations with the police brutality and the heightened media coverage is highlighting the tensions.
Six police officers have been suspended. The names of the police officers were released to the press shortly after their suspension; they state that they did not use force against Freddie Gray.
Eric Kowalczyk, police department spokesman captain, says that the suspensions are standard procedures after an “in custody death”. There is an internal investigation taking place to clarify the case.
President Barack Obama condemned the actions of the public (involved in the violence) in his first public intervention after the Baltimore protests. Stating that any kind of violence, (that has been taking in Baltimore during the last weeks) has no justification and “There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday”. He also stated: “I thinkthere’s some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we as a country have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades”.
Maryland’s State Governor, Larry Hogan, declared the state of emergency due “to address the growing violence and unrest in Baltimore City”.
The candidate of the democrat party, Hillary Clinton, said that the violence events are “heart breaking” and that there’s an urgent need to reform the system.
After a week of violent demonstrations, police officers and National Guard troops are leaving the area. Business owners are trying to get back to their daily routine and reconstruct what has been damaged due to the significant visible and emotional impacts of the riots. Individuals in the affected areas will be the subject of more mass media coverage in the coming months, evidently with particular focus on news regarding police and police conduct.