Katrice Gardner, a resident of the west Baltimore neighborhood hit hardest by the riots following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, was left without a home or a job after violence on April 28.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Gardner explained how rioters fire-bombed her home, and burned down the CVS drugstore where she worked.
“I was yelling at them, pleading at them not to burn my house," Gardner, 30, said outside her boarded-up rowhouse. “They had set the houses around me on fire. They were throwing stuff into the house. They were throwing Molotovs and very flammable stuff. All I could do was beg them not to burn my house."
While angered by Gray's death, Gardner had little sympathy for those involved in the violence that has gripped the neighborhood over recent days.
“These guys aren't from here, they go from place to place causing trouble,” she said. “This doesn't accomplish anything. This is our neighborhood."
Not everyone takes this view. West Baltimore is an area that has reportedly been neglected for decades, leaving many of its residents with nothing.
Tony Banks, 48, felt the riots were an expression of longer-term processes.
“This isn't just about Freddie Gray,” he said. “There have been a lot of Freddie Grays in this neighborhood. It's been going on for years. You have to look past Freddie Gray. Past last week. You need to look back 10 years."
A report in the Los Angeles Times pointed out that urban development had been abandoned for decades, with some residents believing that the community never really recovered following the riots of 1968 triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Under these bleak conditions, hostility is mounting between police and local residents. The LA Times reported that some view them as occupiers rather than public servants.
”People feel these officers never get indicted,” Banks said. “The police do a lot and get away with it."
Yet for those, like Gardner, who have been worst affected by the violence, their problems have only been deepened.
“I can't live in my house while it gets renovated and the place where I work got burned down,” she said. “I don't have a home and a place to work. This is a lot of calamity."
Photo credit: AP Via MPR News