WASHINGTON – Maryland’s governor declared a state of emergency in Baltimore and activated the National Guard after 15 police officers were hurt in violence that followed the funeral of an African American man who died of injuries suffered in police custody.
“The National Guard represents the last resort in restoring order,” Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday night during a joint press conference with commanders of the Maryland National Guard and the state police.
Some 1,500 members of the Guard have been deployed in Baltimore, while state police said they plan to seek as many as 5,000 additional officers from throughout the mid-Atlantic region for temporary duty in the city.
Police said they made 27 arrests.
Two of the 15 officers injured in the unrest remained hospitalized late Monday.
The outbreak came after the funeral for Freddie Gray, 25, who suffered a severed spine in the course of his April 12 arrest and died a week later.
The Gray case, coming after a string of deaths of unarmed blacks at the hands of white police, has fueled anger over the disproportionate use of force against African Americans.
Authorities in Baltimore have not disclosed the race of any of the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest.
The police department has acknowledged that Gray requested medical help and an inhaler after he was detained and that he should have been given medical assistance at the arrest scene.
The rioters on Monday looted shops, set vehicles ablaze and pelted police with stones and bricks.
Violence was concentrated in two mainly African American areas northwest of the city center, though a massive fire at a building under construction in another largely black neighborhood on the city’s east side was also said to be linked to the disturbances.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the imposition of a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew beginning Tuesday.
“Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs,” Baltimore native Rawlings-Blake said of the mayhem.
An attorney representing Freddie Gray’s family said they were saddened by the violence.
Hogan said he had been in contact with President Barack Obama about the situation in Baltimore, while new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch - in her first day on the job - announced that she would be sending Justice Department officials to the city.
“I condemn the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace,” Lynch said in a statement.
“The Civil Rights Division and the FBI have an ongoing, independent criminal civil rights investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray,” the attorney general said.
Baltimore witnessed peaceful protests over Gray’s death last week, though weekend demonstrations were marred by incidents.
Monday’s funeral, held at the New Shiloh Baptist Church, brought out more than 2,000 friends, neighbors, politicians and civil rights leaders to accompany the Gray family.
One of the mourners was Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, the African American man who suffocated to death last year while being detained by members of the New York Police Department.
Many of those who packed into the church were dressed all in white, and the words “Black lives matter and all lives matter” were projected on an interior wall.
The slogan “black lives matter” emerged from the protests spurred by the August 2014 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Brown, who was unarmed, died after being shot by white police officer Darren Wilson.
A local grand jury declined to indict Wilson and the Justice Department concluded it lacked evidence to bring federal civil rights charges against him for the fatal shooting.