Violence erupted in Baltimore, Maryland, last night, with local law enforcement making dozens of arrests following riots that began late yesterday afternoon. MSNBC’s Trymaine Lee and Anna Brand report this morning on where things stand following a night of unrest.
Officers in Downtown Baltimore took position on many corners as the sun came up Tuesday morning following a night of violent unrest that led to a state of emergency and the activation of the National Guard by the Maryland governor.Thousands of schoolkids won’t be in public school as a mass of officers and National Guard troops spread over the 80-square-mile area here with many concerned with a repeat of Monday evening. A city curfew will go into effect tonight at 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., and will be in effect for a week, and extended as necessary.
The event that helped trigger the unrest was the recent death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was arrested on a weapons charge two weeks ago, but who died a week later. According to family attorneys, Gray’s death was the result of a severed spine, which local officials have not yet explained.
That said, I hope it’s obvious that a city does not descend into chaotic violence like the rioting we saw in Baltimore because of one case of alleged abuse. There are systemic conditions at play.
In addition to looting and fires, several police officers were injured in Baltimore overnight, but officials told news outlets that each of the officers are expected to recover.
Freddie Grey’s family condemned the violence and appealed to the community not to riot. “To see that it turned into all this violence and destruction, I am really appalled,” Gray’s stepfather Richard Shipley said.
Gray’s mother, Gloria Darden, urged protesters not to “do it like this.”
As for the broader context, I hope readers will take a minute to read the latest from Ta-Nehisi Coates, a Baltimore native.
Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and “nonviolent.” These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it’s worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray. An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead. What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?