The city of Baltimore has been gripped by protests and outburst of violence since Monday following the funeral of Freddie Gray. For weeks protestors have been calling for answers in Gray’s death. The civilian suffered a fatal spinal fracture while in police custody just over two weeks ago. An investigation into the death has moved slowly and provided few answers. Tension between police and city residents boiled over in the hours following the funeral with protests turning into riots.
Protestors have called for officials and the media to remember Gray who was the subject of an outpouring of community support both while he was in hospital and following his death.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 28, 2015
Demands for answers have poured in both from Baltimore residents as well as media pundits and celebrities.
Residents have struggled to live their day-to-day lives in the face of violence.
— Only Human (@leahmcelrath) April 28, 2015
Social media stars have weighed in with support for the protestors as well.
Police curfews and crackdowns have frustrated residents.
— deray mckesson (@deray) April 28, 2015
Baltimore officials called for school closures in the face of widening unrest. Many residents regarded this as a punitive measure given the number of students in the district who rely on free or reduced lunch and the parents who depend on public schools for child care.
Baltimore has learned nearly nothing from the past 8 months of unrest. Announcing the schools closing tonight was a mistake. 80,000 kids. — deray mckesson (@deray) April 28, 2015
Mainstream media has focused primarily on the violence and destruction of property, which has been significant, but social justice advocates have urged media outlets to temper their coverage with images of the many peaceful protests taking place.
— Melech E. M. Thomas (@MelechT) April 28, 2015
The police and national guard have scaled up both their numbers and equipment in order to cope with the riots, a move many protestors regard as provocative.
Toya Graham made headlines with this iconic image, pulling her young son from the riots out of fear that he would be the next victim of fatal police violence.
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) April 29, 2015
The mainstream media has been quick to focus its coverage on the violence and destruction committed by protestors, but the images pouring out of Baltimore via social media tell a different story.
Baltimore A photo posted by Abysinian (@nomadic724) on
#streetphotography #baltimore #black#owned#streets #looting A photo posted by Abysinian (@nomadic724) on
Protest A photo posted by Abysinian (@nomadic724) on
As of now the city remains on lockdown and tensions remain high. Protests continue and the curfew is still in effect in most neighborhoods. The riots have led many to question police response to protests and prompted officials to speed up the investigation into Freddie Gray’s death. However, the violence also sets a grim precedent given that this is just the latest of many similar incidents to occur in recent months. Whether this will spur a national conversation about the way police interract with communities and the way in which we both respond to and publicize civil unrest remains to be seen.
Update 5/1/2015 – This afternoon, after days of unrest, Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby convened a press conference to release the findings of the weeks long investigation into the death of Freddie Gray. The Baltimore city medical examiner’s office has ruled Gray’s death a homicide after determining that there was no way this fatal spinal injuries could have been self-inflicted. As a result, Mosby will file charges against the offices involved in Gray’s arrest.
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