Just a few short hours after fires raged across parts of Baltimore, as demonstrators staged a protest against law enforcement that turned violent, city residents and volunteers Tuesday morning were out in force cleaning up the debris that littered those same streets. In addition to looting various establishments, protesters injured police officers and set fire to vehicles and buildings, including a CVS Health pharmacy.
A “Baltimore clean-up effort” Facebook page invited people to “get together and help affected communities/businesses” and asked users to shop at businesses that were damaged or otherwise affected by the civil unrest that resulted in Gov. Larry Hogan declaring a state of emergency and calling in the National Guard along with other law enforcement personnel from other parts of the state.
Nearly 2,000 people confirmed their participation to help clean up affected areas. The effort was already underway and being spearheaded by municipal employees, including the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks.
â€” Aaron Gilchrist (@nbcaaron) April 28, 2015
The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, a membership organization that offers programs to “stimulate economic development and transform public spaces,” according to its website, tweeted Tuesday morning that it, too, was cleaning up parts of downtown and asked people to support local businesses.
Help Baltimore. Find a locally owned business that is open and buy something. A soda, a sandwich, anything. New day. #FreddieGray
â€” The Big Acquittal (@BeattyLaw) April 28, 2015
The violent protests began Monday afternoon following the funeral for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore resident who suffered a spinal cord injury after being arrested April 12. He died in police custody one week later.
The Baltimore Police Department subsequently admitted that officers made crucial mistakes during Gray’s arrest, which was captured on video. It is still unclear how Gray suffered what would turn out to be a fatal injury, but the city’s police commissioner said it could have been because of a “rough ride” -- when police intentionally drive dangerously to inflict harm on a passenger in handcuffs. Six police officers -- Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, and Officers William Porter, Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. -- have been suspended with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.
“We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon as he should have been. No excuses for that, period,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said during a news conference April 24, Think Progress reported. “We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has imposed a citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the remainder of the week and condemned the actions of the protesters, many of whom were youths. "Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for," Rawlings-Blake said, the Baltimore Sun reported. "It's idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you're going to make life better for anybody."