City scorched by fires, looting, officers pummeled
Rioters flooded the streets of a Baltimore neighborhood Monday, throwing rocks and attacking police officers, leaving 15 officers injured and six in shock trauma, according to police officials.
One officer was knocked unconscious after being hit in the head by an object, and another officer’s left knee cap is said to be severely damaged.
Even teenagers leaving school “thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at officers,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts at a news conference late Monday evening.
After school, crowds of teens went to the Mondawmin Mall and threw sticks, rocks, bottles, bricks and other objects at the 250 to 300 police officers who guarded the shopping center.
“This is not protesting,” Batts said. “This is not exercising your First Amendment rights. This is criminal activity.”
In a scene police described as a “war zone,” rioters set buildings and police cars ablaze, smashed windows and looted businesses.
Batts said the police didn’t have the resources to handle the violence because it was so widespread.
“Ferguson is a much smaller city,” he said, referring to the Missouri city that saw riots last year after the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown. “Baltimore is about 80 square miles.”
Two officers were reportedly being treated in a hospital after being injured by “flying debris,” including rocks and bricks. The violence erupted on the same day as a funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died April 12 in police custody under circumstances that remain unclear. Police have acknowledged that mistakes were made during and after his arrest.
Baltimore Gov. Larry Hogan has signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard. Up to 5,000 troops will enter Baltimore in armored Humvees, and they will be carrying weapons.
“This is not martial law,” Maj. Gen. Linda Singh of the Maryland National Guard insisted. “Martial law means the military fully takes over. We are not at that point.”
Now Al Sharpton has announced he’s headed to Baltimore to help organize a two-day march for Gray.
Written by CHELSEA SCHILLING
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