Hours after Freddie Gray was laid to rest in West Baltimore on Monday morning, the city erupted in the worst riots it's seen since the '60s. What started out as peaceful protests over the death of the 25-year-old quickly escalated into violent rioting and looting, and somewhere in between the meaning behind the demonstrations was lost. Gray's own family has spoken out against the riots, condemning the violence and pointing out that it no longer had anything to do with Freddie.
In stark contrast to the somber tone inside Gray's funeral, which was attended by thousands of mourners, groups of rioters on the streets started to turn against law enforcement officers. Gray's family barely had time to say goodbye before being confronted with the chaos outside.
On Monday evening, Gray's mother, Gloria Darden, told reporters:
I want y'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. That's wrong.
Gray's twin sister, Fredericka, pointed out that the meaning behind the protests had been lost, suggesting that the motivation behind them had been perverted.
I don't think that's for Freddie. I think the violence is wrong.
Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, told reporters:
I’ve been here earlier today and we had a beautiful home-going service and to see that it turned into all this violence and destruction, I am really appalled.
Pastor Jamal Bryant, who eulogized Gray at his funeral, also condemned the violence on behalf of the family.
Today of all days, the family was very clear that this was a day of sacred closure ... so for us to come out of the burial and walk into this is absolutely inexcusable.
Others in the community, who were deeply upset by Gray's death, disapproved of the violence. Katrina Carter, who grew up near the Mondawmin Mall, where the riots started, told The New York Times:
[The rioters] need to understand how to push pens, not people.
The rioting began around 3 p.m. on Monday when a flier was passed out at a local high school referencing a "purge" (referencing the 2013 movie of the same name about a 24-hour period during which all violent crime is made legal). Within hours, rioters were throwing bricks and bottles at officers, destroying their squad cars, and looting and setting businesses on fire. By 7 p.m., Government Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in Baltimore and deployed the National Guard.
Monday's events were not the first to prompt Gray's family to speak out. When protests turned to chaos on Saturday night, one of the family's attorneys told reporters on their behalf:
They want answers from the police department, but right now their primary concern is burying Freddie Gray.
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