Twenty-five year old Freddie Gray was arrested April 12 by Baltimore police officers before being transported to an area hospital due to spinal trauma he received during transportation. A week later, he was dead.
Gray was arrested for false charges of possession of a switchblade within Baltimore city limits. He actually had with him a spring assisted pocket knife, which is legal in Baltimore.
Maryland state prosecutors declared Gray’s death a homicide on May 1, possibly due to roughriding. Roughriding is an act by police where a person is handcuffed and placed unrestrained in the back seat of a police van or squad car. The driver then proceeds to operate the vehicle in a reckless manner. Gray’s spine was eighty-percent severed, and he also sustained a head injury matching a bolt in the back of the police van.
Six police officers were charged with varying crimes following the state prosecutors ruling. Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr. was charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree depraved heart murder – the most serious of the charges.
Peaceful protests broke out across the city Apr. 25, though there was a small contingent of violence seekers. After Gray’s funeral on Apr. 27, a picture spread on social media stating that a “Purge” would occur at 3:00 p.m. over a large area. To prevent such a thing, the Mondawmin Mall was closed and city officials shut down transportation throughout the area.
Problems arose when classes were dismissed within the transportation dead zone. Students began throwing bricks and bottles at police officers in full riot gear outside the high school, and the officers returned the volley. A few buildings were looted and burned, as well as several squad cars destroyed. Fifteen officers were injured due to the unrest.
The next morning residents were cleaning the city. Two hundred people were arrested during the unrest. A curfew was imposed on the city, but many protesters ignored the measure and threw bottles at police before fireworks or smoke bombs were lobbed by protesters. The anti-riot line advanced, dispersing some some of the crowd. Pepper balls were then launched, clearing the remaining crowd. The National Guard was called into the city to enforce curfew and dispel protests.
The citywide curfew was lifted on May 3 from the city. The soldiers were expected to be fully withdrawn within a week, at which point the state of emergency would be ended.
Anna is in her second year of majoring in journalism with the goal of being a hockey columnist; this is her third semester as a sports columnist. Her other interests include playing hockey, reading, and free writing. She runs an unofficial blog about the QC Mallards at qcmallardshockey.tumblr.com.