This foolishness is proving more and more to Americans with cooler heads that some of this protesting is not done by people from Baltimore but by outside forces trying to start a race war. Some are saying that violent protesters are being paid to start a race riot in order to distract Americans from other issues.
Seven police officers were injured Monday afternoon in a violent clash with demonstrators that began near Mondawmin Mall and was spreading toward downtown. One officer was unresponsive and others suffered broken bones, police spokesman Eric Kowalczyk said.
Smoke filled the air as police responded with shields and a tactical vehicle. Demonstrators pelted officers with rocks, bricks and bottles and assaulted a photojournalist, and officers fired back with tear gas and pepper balls.
Demonstrators set a police vehicle ablaze at North and Pennsylvania avenues. Nearby, they looted a CVS drugstore. The largest group of protesters had reached Howard and Centre streets shortly after 5 p.m., traveling about 3 miles, according to police reports.
Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk called the demonstrators “lawless individuals with no regard for the safety of people that live in that community” and said they would be identified and arrested.
“The group continues to be violent and aggressive. They are disobeying dispersal orders. We are working to evacuate our injured officers,” police said on Twitter.
The incident stemmed from a flier that circulated widely among city school students about a “purge” to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on a film “The Purge,” about what would happen if all laws were suspended.
The threat prompted police to urge downtown businesses and institutions to close, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Lexington Market, a city courthouse and businesses including T. Rowe Price and Venable LLP.
The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.
Kowalczyk would not speculate on whether the incident was related to Gray’s death.
Public officials condemned the riots.
“We’re in a code red crisis,” the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, who hours earlier delivered Gray’s euology, said on CNN. “It’s disappointing.”
Bryant said a group of men from the Nation of Islam planned to build a “human wall” to stop the mob from coming downtown. “Violence is not the answer,” he said.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young on Facebook urged the community to stop the violence.
“The World is watching us to see if we do what took place in 1968,” he said, referring to riots that crippled the city. “We literally destroyed our neighborhood and business. We never really recovered from that.”
City schools officials said staff were working to ensure students passed safely between school buildings and bus stops and would make grief counselors available for students.
“We are deeply concerned about our students and community, and we hope to treat this situation not only as a teachable moment but also a time for thoughtful reflection on how we can reduce conflict and violence in our society,” schools officials said in a statement.
SOURCE: Erica L. Green and Scott Dance