(SOURCE) A state of emergency was issued and National Guard troops were deployed in the streets of Baltimore after violence erupted in the city on Monday afternoon.
Numerous fires were reported overnight, and Baltimore police reported people throwing cinder blocks at fire engines as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames.
A citywide curfew will be in effect from 10 p.m. today until 5 a.m. Wednesday. The 10 p.m. curfews will last for one week, mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, and could be extended as necessary. A 9 p.m. curfew is already in effect for children 14 and younger.
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“This is not a lawless city,” Rawlings-Blake said. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Baltimore City Public Schools will also be closed today, and a Baltimore Orioles-Chicago White Sox baseball game could possibly be moved to Washington, D.C.
Fifteen officers were injured, six seriously during Monday’s violence, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said in a news conference. Those injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.
“This is not protesting, this is not your First Amendment rights,” he said. “This is criminal acts.”
Monday’s standoff began near the Mondawmin Mall in the northwest part of the city, the Baltimore Police Department said, as the group threw bricks, rocks and other objects at officers. Protesters were seen climbing on a police cruiser and damaging several others, and fires broke out, including flames that engulfed a community center project.
The unrest was sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, who died after being in police custody. Gray’s mother, speaking the night of the 25-year-old’s funeral, made a plea for peace.
“I want you all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here. Don’t tear up the whole city just for him,” Gloria Darden said. “It’s wrong.”
Rawlings-Blake, speaking to reporters late Monday, decried the violence and property damage.
“People say they care about their community and want to be heard, but you can’t care about your community and do what they did,” Rawlings-Blake said.
“I understand anger, but what we’re seeing isn’t anger, it’s destruction of a community.”
Newly minted Attorney General Loretta Lynch also weighed in on the situation in Baltimore, condemning the “senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore.”
“The Department of Justice stands ready to provide any assistance that might be helpful,” Lynch added. “The Civil Rights Division and the FBI have an ongoing, independent criminal civil rights investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray.”
Monday’s clash at the mall follows a volatile weekend in Baltimore. Protests that started off peacefully Saturday turned violent by afternoon in downtown Baltimore. Protests were also held during Gray’s wake Sunday.