Protests In Baltimore Turn Violent After Freddie Gray's Funeral & University Closes Amid Threat Alert
Mostly peaceful protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray turned violent Monday when protesters jumped on a police car and threw rocks, boards, and chunks of concrete at officers, The New York Times reported. Police in riot gear clashed with the protesters in a neighborhood in northwest Baltimore near Gray's funeral, which was held earlier Monday morning. Baltimore police Captain Eric Kowalczyk told the Times seven officers were injured. Officers responded with tear gas and pepper balls, according to The Baltimore Sun, and several arrests were made.
Police told the Times that they thought most of the violent protesters came from a nearby high school. The violence began after a flier was circulated among the city's school students calling for a “purge” at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending in downtown Baltimore, according to the Sun. The flier referenced the movie The Purge, about a hypothetical future society where all crime is legal for one night out of the year. The Sun said the flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march protesting Gray's death, which resulted from a spinal cord injury after being arrested and detained by city police.
Mondawmin Mall closed at 1 p.m. because of the incident, and The University of Maryland Baltimore also closed early on a recommendation from police, reported the Sun. Kowalczyk said he wouldn't speculate whether the incident was even related to Gray's death. He spoke to reporters Monday afternoon, according to CNN:
This afternoon, a group of outrageous criminals attacked our officers. Right now, we have seven officers that have serious injuries, including broken bones, and one officer who is unconscious.
There were no injuries reported among the protesters, according to CNN. Earlier in the day, during Gray's funeral, the Baltimore Police Department released a statement that police officers were under a "credible threat" after a number of gangs had allegedly joined forces to hurt police officers, according to CNN:
The Baltimore Police Department/Criminal Intelligence Unit has received credible information that members of various gangs including the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods, and Crips have entered into a partnership to 'take out' law enforcement officers. This is a credible threat.
The violence began just a few hours after Gray's funeral ended. ABC News said that officials at the church where the funeral was held estimated that about 3,000 people attended. Billy Murphy, an attorney for the Gray family told CNN that the family does not want violence toward police officers:
I am sure that the family is concerned, and I am positive that they are against what is beginning to develop here in town. They [officers] don't deserve this any more than Freddie Gray deserved it.
According to CNN, Maryland State Police have ordered an additional 40 troopers to Baltimore to join the 42 troopers already sent there Monday afternoon. So far, more than 280 state troopers have provided assistance in Baltimore.
Images: Getty Images