Little Bits of History

April 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2017

2015: The Baltimore Orioles play the Chicago White Sox. On April 12, 2015 the Baltimore Police arrested Freddie Gray, a 25 year old African-American from Baltimore. Gray suffered neck and spine injuries while in transport. When he went into a coma on April 18, protests were held outside the police station and continued and escalated after Gray died the following day. Police have never been able to adequately explain how Gray was injured and this also fueled the protests and Civil Rights concerns. On April 25 the NAACP, CASA de Maryland, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle requested that Governor Larry Hogan look into the charges of police brutality. The next day, protesters marched from City Hall to Inner Harbor and at the end of the march, some became violent.

The Baltimore Orioles were playing the Boston Red Sox and the game was close. Near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, violence was on the upsweep and it was considered unsafe for the fans to leave the stadium. In the middle of the ninth inning, an announcement was made asking all to remain inside due to “ongoing public safety issues” in the streets. The 36,757 fans remained even after the tenth inning win by the Orioles while outside at least 34 people were arrested and six police officers were injured.

A funeral was held for Gray on April 27 and there were many to see him off to his final resting place in Woodlawn Cemetery. Flyers as well as messages on social media were calling for people to come together to “purge” – a reference to a violent, dystopian action series of films by that name – a wide swath of Baltimore from Mondawmin to Downtown. The police proactively showed up in riot gear and shut down public transportation. This did not stop the violence and other police forces came to aid in the containment of the violence. The Orioles were to play a three game series against the White Sox and the first of the two games were cancelled due to safety concerns. On this day, the game was played behind closed doors, the first time in Major League Baseball history. It broke the record for attendance since zero fans were permitted to enter. The previous record was six and set in 1882.

A state of emergency was called and the Maryland National Guard was called in. Over the course of the weeks of rioting, more than twenty police officers were injured, 250 people were arrested, between 285 and 350 businesses were damaged, there were 150 vehicle fires, there were 60 structural fires, and 27 drugstores were looted. The state of emergency was lifted on May 6. Gray’s death was ruled a homicide and six officers were charged with offenses including second-degree murder. Three officers were acquitted and the other three had their charges dropped.

A riot is the language of the unheard. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I can see in your eyes, I can see in your faces, I can see you cry. But what I want to say, there’s no reason to cry. Do not, in the name of peace, go in the streets and riot. – George Weah

Rioting is a childish way of trying to be a man, but it takes time to rise out of the hell of hatred and frustration and accept that to be a man you don’t have to riot. – Abraham Maslow

You can’t just lecture the poor that they shouldn’t riot or go to extremes. You have to make the means of legal redress available. – Harold H. Greene