Desmoines News Desk

Baltimore police, protesters clash; 15 officers hurt

Baltimore police, protesters clash; 15 officers hurt

Rioters in Baltimore hurled rocks at police, destroyed patrol cars and looted and burned stores as demonstrations over the death of a black man in police custody turned violent Monday. Police said 15 officers were injured and two remained hospitalized Monday evening. “All are going to be OK but sustained heavy damage to their bodies,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said in a news conference late Monday night.635657648130053266-GTY-471378206

One officer was hit in the head and another suffered severe damage to his knee cap, Batts said. The police commissioner said at the news conference that he believes that the tensions were on the down side and on their way to dying down. Batts said it was his understanding that a number of gangs met and decided that each group would “take out a police officer” after the Monday’s funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a fatal spinal injury after being in custody with Baltimore city police.

Batts implored parents to take control of their children who might be taking part in the rioting and said what troubled him was that the structures that were being destroyed took great effort to erect in ailing communities that need them. Many communities do not survive riots, he said. “I’ve seen cities that haven’t recovered 50 years later,” he said. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in the city and activated the National Guard to assist city and state police, calling it a “last resort” to restore order.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the rioters “thugs” and said the city was imposing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting Tuesday. She said she asked Hogan to send in the Guard. “We are deploying every resource possible to gain control of the situation and ensure peace moving forward,” she said. Referring to the looters, she said during a television interview: “I don’t understand how stealing jeans is going to bring justice to Mr. Gray.” She said the city would get to the bottom of whether the rioters were from Baltimore or from outside the city. “We won’t stand by and let our community be destroyed,” Rawlings-Blake said.