Justice

Everything You Need to Know about the Baltimore Riots

Baltimore descended into chaos Monday night and early Tuesday morning, as widespread protests gave way to riots, looting, and violence just hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal injury in police custody earlier this month. Over 200 people have been arrested so far, and at least 15 police officers were wounded, six seriously, by flying debris, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency, call in additional support from the national guard and police from neighboring counties, as well as set a week-long curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning tonight. Schools will also close temporarily.

(For more information on the background of what happened to Freddie Gray, check out ATTN:'s explainer.)

Photographs, videos, and reports from Monday afternoon painted a hellish portrait of city streets dotted with smoldering, burned-out cars, furious crowds, smashed shop windows, and entire buildings set ablaze. The violence prompted outrage from city officials as well as community members.

"This is not a lawless city," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "I'm at a loss for words."

"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.

"This is not protesting, this is not your First Amendment rights," Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said at a news conference Monday night. "This is criminal acts."

The violence began Monday on the city's northwest side, where an angry crowd of what appeared to be mostly young people threw bricks and rocks, among other objects, at officers, and destroyed a police car. Reports also indicate that a number of fires broke out there, spreading to a nearby community center project. The rioting came after a weekend of tense demonstrations, and many large, peaceful protests across the city.

An emotional Gloria Darden, Gray's mother, spoke out calling for justice, but condemning the violence. "I want you all to get justice for my son, but don't do it like this here. Don't tear up the whole city just for him," she said Monday night. "It's wrong."

Streets appeared relatively calm Tuesday morning, and as national guard troops stood guarding Baltimore City Hall, residents and community members began picking up the pieces of their city. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) told reporters that residents can expect to see a greater number of law enforcement officers by Tuesday night, but also highlighted the positive aspects of a swift response, as well as an outpouring of volunteers offering to help clean up the city.

"I don't want to place any blame, our response has been incredible," Hogan said, promising support at the local, state, and federal level wherever available.

At a press conference Tuesday, President Obama voiced concern for the safety of Baltimore, condemning what he described as a "handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes" and overshadowing the "thousands of demonstrators [doing it] the right way," saying that those individuals must be treated "as criminals."

"When individuals get crow bars, and start prying open doors to loot, they're not protesting, they're not making a statement––they're stealing. When they burn down a building, they're committing arson, and they're destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities, that rob the jobs and opportunities from people in the area."

Obama called on the need for "soul searching" in police departments, communities, and in the nation as a whole in an extended answer to a reporter's question about Baltimore, and the broader context of police violence and discrimination. "Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions," an issue he said that seems to come up "every couple of weeks."

"This is not new, it's been going on for decades."

Newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch voiced her concern and hope for calm in the coming days. "In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents," she said, adding that she would use the full weight of the Department of Justice to resolve the situation.