56°F
weather icon Clear

Store owners recovering from handful of violent protestors

As a funeral home opened its doors for Freddie Gray’s wake Sunday, a few store owners were clearing the mess from the destruction caused by a handful of protesters the night before.

The vast majority of protesters who took to Baltimore’s streets late Saturday were peaceful, but the handful who weren’t left behind shards, rubble, and dents.

The demonstration was aimed at police, who had Gray in their custody when he suffered injuries that would claim his life.

Baltimore police said at least 34 people were arrested and six officers suffered minor injuries during the latest protest.

Before Sunday’s wake, Gray’s family members called for agitators to stop the destruction.

“My family wants to say, ‘Can y’all please, please stop the violence,’” said his sister Fredericka Gray on Saturday night. “Freddie Gray would not want this.”

News of her brother’s smashed upper spine and officers’ delay in getting him medical care has triggered outrage, and people are demanding justice for the latest-known African-American man to die violently after an encounter with white police officers.

For a week, they have spilled into Baltimore’s streets in peaceful demonstrations.

And on Saturday, they continued. Marchers chanted in unison, “All night, all day; we’re gonna fight for Freddie Gray.” Poster board signs speckled the crowd. Some wore T-shirts reading “Black lives matter.”

The crowd marched up to a line of police, most of whom were not wearing riot gear. Officers and squad cars backed away, as the crowd chanted “Please go home.”

But the peaceful rapport came to an end when police in riot gear tried to hold a line, and a few protesters vandalized police cars, threw objects at officers, cursed at them and scuffled with them.

About a dozen young men smashed squad cars with garbage cans, climbed on top of them and stomped on them, CNN video showed.

More police in riot gear moved in, forming a line many officers thick and raising their transparent shields, as officers on horseback backed them up.

And some protesters put themselves between police and enraged demonstrators to calm hot tempers. “Don’t lose the message!” one of them called out again and again to the rowdier group.

Police commissioner Anthony Batts thanked the peacemakers.

“Residents put themselves in between police officers and agitated crowd and asked for calm and asked for peace, which was very good to see,” he said.

But a small group smashed store windows, police said.

The planned demonstration culminated in speeches at City Hall in the evening. But after nightfall, jagged holes gaped in smashed windows at shops and bars, and large shards of glass covered their floors and sidewalks.

Inside a 7-Eleven store, shelves lay overturned and smashed, with wares looted or strewn across the floor. Police officers in protective helmets stood guard outside the door and looked for ways to board up the store.

As darkness brought rain and 40-degree temperatures, police faced the last dozens of protesters, while baseball fans sat stranded in their seats at a Baltimore Orioles’ game.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. Due to an ongoing public safety issue, the mayor of Baltimore city and the Baltimore city Police Department have asked all fans to remain inside the ballpark until further notice,” an announcer told the crowd.

Earlier, they had to get past protests as they entered the park to watch the game against the Boston Red Sox.

When the all-clear echoed out of the PA system, visitors were advised to avoid certain sections of town nearby as they exited the stands.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was frustrated over the troublemakers, but encouraged the overwhelming peaceful majority,

“After a week of peaceful demonstrations, I am profoundly disappointed to see the violence in our city this evening,” she said. “I’m grateful to the many demonstrators who made their opinions known in a peaceful manner.”

Police have exchanged criticism among themselves over the treatment of Gray and the investigation, as most of the officers involved in the arrest gave statements to investigators.

Batts said he was appalled that Gray did not receive proper care immediately. There were no excuses, he said.

The Fraternal Order of Police shot back.

“These comments appear to be politically driven and in direct contrast to the commissioner’s own request not to jump to any conclusions until the entire investigation is complete,” Gene Ryan, president of the organization, said in a written statement.

Police say five of the six officers involved in the arrest have provided statements to investigators. The sixth officer has invoked his right to refuse to answer questions, Batts said.

On April 12, cell phone video recorded Gray’s arrest. Police have said they detained him in connection with drug suspicions. He has been arrested in the past on drug-related allegations.

A neighborhood surveillance camera showed what appeared to be Gray sitting calmly next to two officers. Later footage showed them over him as he lay on the concrete.

When officers lifted him, Gray howled in anguish, dragging his limp legs behind him, as officers carried him by his arms to a paddy wagon. Neighbors cried out that Gray appeared to be injured.

Various outdoor surveillance cameras recorded the van driving through the neighborhood — with at least one stop. It took nearly 40 minutes to arrive at a police station with the distressed 25-year-old. He was not buckled in properly, authorities have said.

His family said his voice box had been crushed and his neck snapped. After a week in a hospital intensive care unit and emergency surgery, Gray died.

The preliminary work on his autopsy has been done, but the medical examiner’s office is waiting on toxicology results and may invite spinal experts to look at the case. A full report may take 30 to 45 days.

Gray is to be laid to rest on Monday.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Virus fears rise after Cambodia accepts ship, woman tests positive

News over the weekend that an 83-year-old American woman who was on the ship and flew from Cambodia to Malaysia was found to be carrying the virus froze further movement of the passengers and crew of the MS Westerdam.

US, Taliban reach Afghanistan truce agreement, official says

The truce agreement that will take effect “very soon” and could lead to withdrawals of American troops from Afghanistan, a senior official said.

Weinstein saw victims as ‘complete disposables,’ says prosecutor

“The universe is run by me and they don’t get to complain when they get stepped on, spit on, demoralized and, yes, raped and abused by me — the king,” Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said, mimicking Weinstein.

6 Chinese medical workers die, 1.7K infected by virus

Confirmed cases in mainland China rose to 63,851 by the end of Thursday, up 5,090 from the previous day. The death toll rose 121 to 1,380.

Virus deaths in China spike under new method of counting

The death toll in China reached 1,367, up 254 from the previous day. The number of confirmed cases jumped 15,152 to 59,804. The unusually large increases were due to the change in Hubei’s approach.

California bullet train cost grows by another $1B

The estimated cost to complete California’s high-speed rail line rose another $1.3 billion, to $80.3 billion, while construction is on schedule to meet a 2022 deadline to have about 20% of the track laid, according to a new business plan released Wednesday.