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      Mayhem Erupts in Baltimore at Protests Over Freddie Gray Death

      Mayhem Erupts in Baltimore at Protests Over Freddie Gray Death Mayhem Erupts in Baltimore at Protests Over Freddie Gray Death Mayhem Erupts in Baltimore at Protests Over Freddie Gray Death
      Photo by Sait Serkan Gurbuz/Reuters

      Americas

      Mayhem Erupts in Baltimore at Protests Over Freddie Gray Death

      By Colleen Curry

      Hours after Baltimore police promised "deep, systemic changes in the culture" of their department to protesters upset over the death of Freddie Gray, waves of violence and looting shook the city.

      Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said that demonstrations and marches were peaceful until about 7pm, when protesters became "agitated" and clashed with police around Camden Yards baseball stadium. Fans inside the stadium were told to stay inside.

      Hundreds of Baltimore and Maryland State Police in riot gear tried to calm the crowd, but police said that a small group of protesters left the Camden Yards area and went on a violent spree through the streets, smashing windows and looting a local convenience store.

      Videos taken at the scene show some protesters jumping on top of police cars and smashing windows, throwing things through store windows, and leaving shelves of items overturned in shops. Footage also captured a large group of police clad in riot gear sprinting down the street toward protesters.

      The Baltimore Sun reported that protesters shouted "Killers!" and "You can't get away with this!" at cops while throwing rocks and water bottles at police mounted on horseback.

      Gray's family called for a halt to the violence, and protest leaders emphasized the fact that the day started out peacefully. There were even claims that rival gangs were briefly united in solidarity during the demonstration. Some called attention to rough treatment of bystanders by Baltimore police, who were recorded manhandling what onlookers said was a photographer for a local media outlet.

      Batts said Saturday night that five officers were injured and 12 people were arrested. Fire officials estimated that about 1,200 people were involved in the protests, according to the Associated Press.

      Earlier in the day, Batts had engaged with protesters near City Hall, promising them changes within the department, he told reporters at an evening press conference. He said he was proud of Baltimore residents for telling the "agitators" to "calm down and relax," and said that the conflict appeared to be between "agitators" and police, not Baltimore residents.

      Saturday's events were the latest in a wave of demonstrations held around Baltimore since the death of Gray in police custody on April 19. Gray, 25, was arrested for running away from police officers, and asked for medical treatment while he was placed in a police van in leg cuffs. He was denied treatment for more than 30 minutes, according to police. He died of a spinal injury, though police have not disclosed details about the injury. Gray's family attorney has said Gray's spine was "80 percent" severed. Gray's funeral is scheduled for Monday.

      The US Justice Department has opened an investigation into the death, according to the Sun.

      Follow Colleen Curry on Twitter: @currycolleen

      Topics: americas, politics, baltimore, police, protests, looting, riots, anthony batts, maryland state police, camden yards, police killings, freddie gray

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