A demonstration in Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody after suffering a serious spinal injury, has reportedly taken a violent turn (videos below).
In a press conference on April 24, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts acknowledged that Gray did not receive medical attention in a timely manner. The investigation into Gray’s death is ongoing.
Police say the protesters have refused to follow orders and teens have been throwing rocks and bricks at officers. Several police officers were injured, but the Baltimore Police Department said on Twitter that the officers have been removed from danger and are receiving medical help.
In addition to officer injuries, a police car has reportedly been set on fire and businesses are being looted. Police have claimed teenagers have been the source of violence and asked all parents to “locate their children and bring them home.”
“We are asking for the MEDIA to assist us in relaying this message. Due to the large number of juveniles in these violent groups… we are asking for PARENTS to please bring your children home. We don't want to see anyone get hurt,” Baltimore Police Department tweeted.
Baltimore City Schools said in a statement that they were working to ensure their students stay safe and have access to help.
“We are in constant contact with the Mayor’s Office, Baltimore City Police Department, and the City Health Department, and are coordinating with them to ensure we are ready to respond to situations as they arise,” the statement reads in part. “We will make crisis counselors and mental health professionals available at schools throughout the city for all of our students, and they will remain as long as it is necessary. Additionally, we have redeployed senior district staff and mobile units to assist in ensuring safe passage of our students between school buildings and bus stops.”
The University of Maryland, Baltimore, closed its downtown campus this afternoon. Several businesses along the march route have also shut down, including to T. Rowe Price, who said in statement: “We took this step out of an abundance of caution and to honor our commitment to the safety of our associates. Business continuity procedures have been implemented to ensure our operations continue uninterrupted. We expect that many of our associates will continue working remotely for the remainder of the day. We will continue to monitor the situation in consultation with local authorities.”
Police have asked people to avoid the march’s route and requested protesters remain peaceful. So far, only two people have reportedly been arrested.
Gray died April 19, one week after his arrest. At the time of his arrest, Gray indicated that he was unable to breathe, according to a witness. During one of several stops on the way to the Western District police station, an officer saw Gray on the floor of the van, asking for a medic. When they finally arrived at the station, an ambulance was called.