In an eerie echo of the protests, both nonviolent and violent, that swept the nation after Michael Brown's death and funeral, protests against police brutality in Baltimore turned violent today. Freddie Gray, 25, was allegedly injured while being arrested by Baltimore police and died one week later. Thousands of people took to the streets after his death to speak out against the use of force on citizens who surrendered to arrest without violence. Police are investigating Gray's arrest, and the six officers involved have been suspended. Before Gray's funeral today, officials and Gray's family asked for peace and calm, saying that violence would only distract from mourning. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings spoke for the family:
I haven't come here to ask you to respect wishes of the family. I've come here to beg you.
But on Sunday afternoon, after Gray's funeral, peaceful protests became violent, spurring the Twitter trend #BaltimoreRiots. While many Twitter users have expressed their wishes that protesters stop setting fire to buildings, looting, vandalizing, and injuring police officers, a large number of users tweeted support for the protesters, expressing sympathy for a racial struggle. Hundreds of tweets with the hashtag were sent every minute, and a few celebrities spoke their minds on current events.
Judah Friedlander, who played Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock, was one of the most vocal. Friedlander did not excuse violence, but he observed that police did not appear to be stopping it.
Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low told his fans in Baltimore to stay safe.
Gaskarth also encouraged his followers to engage in conversation about the issues being raised by protesters.
In a series of tweets from prison that appeared online very promptly, Chelsea Manning said she wished the protests would return to nonviolence.
Nev Schulman of the popular MTV show Catfish encouraged his followers to pay attention to the news.
Echoing a popular sentiment, YouTube personality and dog owner Jenna Mourey, better known as Jenna Marbles, also expressed a wish for protesters and residents to stay safe.
Carson Daly's tweet on the situation was so inflammatory that he took it down, but his name still became a trending topic.
After today's Orioles game was postponed due to the riots, Steve Johnson, pitcher for the Orioles, tweeted a similar message.
Actress Heather Matarazzo, whom you probably know best as Lilly from The Princess Diaries, was also outspoken on social media.
And rather than using just 140 characters, Al Sharpton tweeted a link to an official statement on the situation.