After almost two weeks of tension over the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore descended into chaos yesterday, reports the Baltimore Sun. Roaming gangs of young men clashed with police, seriously injuring officers; tore open businesses, and looted stocks. Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard, and state police requested as many as 5,000 reinforcements from neighboring states. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake started a weeklong curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Rawlings-Blake blamed the mayhem on “thugs who only want to incite violence and destroy our city.” She joined a chorus of officials and residents, some of whom fought off rioters to defend their homes and businesses. The violence began hours after Gray’s funeral despite a suspension of demonstrations in deference to mourners and pleas from his family that protests remain peaceful.
Col. William Pallozzi, superintendent of the state police, said 1,500 state troopers were in Baltimore last night. Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, commander of the Maryland National Guard, said as many as 5,000 soldiers could be deployed. Church leaders took to the streets to intervene in the violence, call for calm and pray for peace. Later Monday, more than 75 ministers met with gang members, including Bloods and Crips, and representatives of the Nation of Islam to talk about ways to end the violence. he events stood in stark contrast to earlier, more peaceful protests in the city after Gray’s death last week in police custody. The 25-year-old Baltimore man suffered spinal cord and other injuries after his arrest April 12.