Freddie Gray Protests Take Violent Turn

Officials blame out-of-town agitators
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 26, 2015 7:58 AM CDT
Freddie Gray Protests Take Violent Turn
People take items from a business cooler after a march to City Hall for Freddie Gray, Saturday, April 25, 2015 in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van.    (Alex Brandon)

A protest over the death of Freddie Gray started peacefully with thousands marching through downtown streets before the demonstration turned violent and volatile. The chaotic scene last night prompted the first public remarks from Gray's twin sister, who pleaded for peace alongside Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who said she was "profoundly disappointed" by the violence. "My family wants to say, can you all please, please stop the violence?" Fredricka Gray said. "Freddie Gray would not want this." Just before nightfall, protesters marched from City Hall to Camden Yards, where the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox. Fans were told to stay inside the stadium until the police were able to clear an intersection outside of the venue.

Meanwhile, a smaller "splinter group" looted a convenience store and threw tables and chairs through storefront windows. One group smashed the window of a department store inside a downtown mall and, at one point, a protester tossed a flaming metal garbage can toward a line of police officers in riot gear. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said roughly 1,200 officers were deployed, five were injured, and 12 people were arrested. Batts said he believes the "very violent agitators" are not from Baltimore. Added Rawlings-Blake, "that's unacceptable to me and everyone who lives in Baltimore." Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice, said the crowd of 1,200 or so gathered at City Hall exceeded expectations, adding that protesters' anger is not surprising. "This is a problem that has not been solved," he said. "When there's no justice, they tend to want to take matters into their own hands." (More Freddie Gray stories.)

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