The US National Guard was called into Baltimore on Monday 27 April to put down riots which followed the funeral of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died last week of injuries sustained during a violent arrest by police.
Freddie suffered a broken neck which left his spine “80% severed” and his voicebox crushed. He lapsed into a coma and died a week later.
Freddie was chased and arrested for “catching an officer’s eye” and running away. Mobile phone footage of Freddie's arrest shows him being dragged into a police van while yelling in pain, one of his legs appearing limp.
Police chiefs have admitted that officers failed to provide Freddie with medical attention and did not seatbelt him in the van. He was transported with his hands tied behind his back and his legs in restraints. Many activists have claimed that police deliberately do “rough rides” in which police vehicles are driven erratically to injure passengers.
The six cops involved in Freddie’s arrest have been suspended and a criminal inquiry into the death is under way.
Riots have resulted in many arrests, with police and national guard officers firing tear gas grenades, so called “less lethal” bullets and pepper balls. At least one officer has been reported as throwing a brick back at protesters.
The US Socialist Worker (not connected to the British Socialist Worker) website reports:
“Right-wing pundits like Tucker Carlson labeled the protests a ‘threat to civilization itself’, but the media have been less willing to show police provocations, including cops driving armored vehicles onto the sidewalk as a means of ‘crowd dispersal’, and the deliberate closure of portions of Baltimore’s transit system, which stranded high school students and forced them into confrontations with heavily armed police as they tried to get home.”
In a eulogy at Freddie’s funeral, pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant attacked the police for punishing Freddie for “looking a man in the eye”, an instruction he said young black men are frequently condemned for failing to obey.