On Saturday night, the scene in Washington was celebratory, festive, indulgent even, as thousands of guests dined and laughed at jokes at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. But less than an hour away, in Baltimore, thousands of demonstrators protested the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who was arrested by the police on April 12 and died from a spinal injury a week later. Many are expressing outrage on social media over the stark juxtaposition between the tense scene in Baltimore and the frivolous one at the dinner.
The last week has seen continuous protests in Baltimore over the questionable circumstances surrounding Gray's death. The specific cause of Gray's spinal injury, which led to his death, remain unclear, but what has been confirmed so far is that when Gray was taken into a van by police on the morning of the 12th, he was talking and walking, and about half an hour later, he was taken out unable to talk or breathe. A week later, Gray died on Sunday, April 19.
While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, the protesters have been no less angry, and the scene escalated drastically on Saturday night. Earlier in the day, protesters calmly marched through the streets shouting, "All night, all day, we’re gonna fight for Freddie Gray!" But that calmness turned into disorder when demonstrators reportedly began shoving officers, smashing windows, and vandalizing police cars.
CNN reported that at least five cars were damaged and 12 people have been arrested, according to Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. And according to the Associated Press, baseball fans attending a Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards were asked to stay in the stadium for their safety.
People on Twitter were quick to point out how ironic — and infuriating — it was that the very journalists who were toasting each other for their work were missing out on this very important news story.
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