Washington: Baltimore City, around 64 km northeast of the American capital, resembled a battle zone on Tuesday littered with charred cars and buildings and looted businesses after a day of riots over the death of a black man in police custody.
Police in riot gear, holding large see-through shields, took up positions around Baltimore on Tuesday morning to take control of the situation with buildings and cars across the city left engulfed in flames after overnight rioting.
Nearly 200 arrests have been made with about a dozen businesses looted or damaged, and 144 vehicle fires and 15 structure fires, CNN reported. At least 15 officers were wounded, six of them seriously, it said citing the police commissioner. National Guard members stood outside City Hall after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Monday.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake decried the destruction as the city remained under curfew with schools closed and said every possible resource was being deployed to "gain control of this situation". The city erupted on Monday after the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was arrested on April 12 and died a week later from a fatal spinal cord injury. The unrest in Baltimore follows a spate of protests across the country over the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
Underlying all this unrest is what Baltimore City Council Member Brandon Scott as cited by CNN called "a long, long, longstanding issue with young African-Americans" in cities around the country. "We're talking about years and decades of mistrust, of misfortune, of despair that it's just coming out in anger," Scott told CNN. "No, it is not right for them to burn down their own city. But that is what's coming out of these young people."
The influential Time magazine recently listed 14 major instances of a white policeman shooting dead a black person since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. According to another media report, 154 people have died at the hands of law enforcement officers since January, with 37 killed in April alone.