Scattered violence in Baltimore protests of man's death after police custody

Scattered violence in Baltimore protests of man's death after police custody
Some of the thousands of protesters in Baltimore on Saturday attacked police cars and businesses. Several people were arrested. (Jim Watson / AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands of protesters took to the streets Saturday in the largest rally yet over the death of Freddie Gray, and after hours of peaceful demonstrations, pockets of protesters smashed police car windows and storefronts.

Two people were hurt in the mayhem and at least a dozen were arrested. The problems happened near Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles game against the Boston Red Sox went on as scheduled. Fans were told toward the end of the game to stay in the stadium because of public safety worries. Before the game, some demonstrators fought with fans at a bar.


Gray, 25, died April 19 after suffering a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. Authorities have not explained how or when Gray's spine was injured. He died about a week after his arrest.

Police have said Gray should have received medical attention at the spot where he was arrested — before he was put inside a police transport van handcuffed and without a seat belt, a violation of the department's policy.

In her first public comments since Gray's death, his twin sister, Fredricka Gray, appealed for calm as she appeared with the mayor at a news conference.

"My family wants to say: Can you all please, please stop the violence?" she said. "Freddie Gray would not want this.... Violence does not get justice."

There have been near-daily protests since Gray's death. On Saturday, a small group threw cans and plastic bottles in the direction of police officers. One protester broke the window of a police cruiser, grabbed a police hat inside and wore it while standing on top of the cruiser with several other protesters.

At that point, scores of police rushed into the area and formed a line three officers deep. The protesters scattered but returned a few minutes later and began yelling, "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"

Before the protest turned tense and violent, demonstrators filled two city blocks and marched 2 miles to City Hall, where the crowd overtook an adjacent grassy plaza.

Tanya Peacher, a 36-year-old Baltimore resident, said she'd never attended a protest in the city before, but watching a video of Gray's arrest motivated her.

"I looked at my son," she said, "and thought 'that is my son.'"

At a downtown intersection, a dozen marchers lay down in the street during an impromptu "die-in."

Wearing a sign around his neck that said "I am Freddie Gray," Dante Acree, 33, joined thousands of others outside City Hall. Acree said he came out to the protest because "it could have been one of my kids."

"It could have been my brother, my father," he said. "I'd want the same support."