What started as a peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, turned violent Saturday evening. More than 1,000 people joined an orderly 90-minute rally at Baltimore City Hall demanding justice for Freddie Gray, who died last Sunday from spinal injuries, a week after his arrest. Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based group that called for the demonstration and advertised it on social media, told the crowd that he would release them in an hour, adding: “Shut it down if you want to! Shut it down!” Mr. Shabazz is no stranger to riots having been involved in the lead up to unrest in Ferguson MO. Calling for “rebellion” if Darren Wilson was not indicted in Missouri, although he claims in this case that his rhetoric was intended only to encourage civil disobedience, not violence. He did add that he was not surprised by the outbursts because people in Baltimore “haven’t received justice.”
“the mood shifted dramatically when several scores of protesters moved on to the Camden Yards baseball stadium, an hour before the scheduled start of a Baltimore Orioles-Boston Red Sox game. Live images from local television news helicopters showed a youthful crowd hurling soda bottles and trash cans at police officers alongside the Sports Legends museum and Camden Yards ticket booths.”
Investigative reporter Matthew Boyle was at the Orioles-Red Sox game and reported at 10 p.m. that, “No one is allowed to leave Oriole Park at Camden Yards. There are at least 15,000 people trapped in the stadium — and it’s the bottom of the tenth inning.” Just past 11 p.m. he subsequently reported that they were finally allowed to leave the stadium. Baltimore Police called for people to “remain peaceful” via Twitter. “Protesters are now breaking windows and throwing items at us, We are asking everyone to remain peaceful.”
Just before 10 p.m., Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a press conference at City Hall, with Mr. Gray’s twin sister, Fredericka to appeal for calm. Demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, then threw rocks and bottles damaging police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes leading to 12 arrests near Camden Yards. Today’s game is well underway without incident or evidence of last night’s destruction.