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Baltimore riots: National Guard troops called in as looters ransack stores and set fire to police cars after Freddie Gray's funeral

Mr Gray died in police custody a week after being arrested

By David Usborne and Andrew Buncombe

Published 28/04/2015

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: A woman faces down a line of Baltimore Police officers in riot gear during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, who was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: A woman faces down a line of Baltimore Police officers in riot gear during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, who was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: Baltimore Police officers in riot gear block the street on Reisterstown Road near Mowdamin Mall, April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. The funeral service for Freddie Gray, who died last week while in Baltimore Police custody, was held on Monday morning. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: With Baltimore Police officers in riot gear lining the street, a man stands at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue , April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Riots have erupted in Baltimore following the funeral service for Freddie Gray, who died last week while in Baltimore Police custody. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A protestor gestures before riot police on April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland on April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Violent street clashes erupted in Baltimore after friends and family gathered for the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose death in custody triggered a fresh wave of protests over US police tactics. Police said at least seven officers were injured -- one of them was unresponsive -- as youths hurled bricks and bottles and destroyed at least one police vehicle in the vicinity of the shopping mall not far from the church where the funeral took place. AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: With Baltimore Police officers in riot gear lining the street, a man stands at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue , April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Riots have erupted in Baltimore following the funeral service for Freddie Gray, who died last week while in Baltimore Police custody. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: Baltimore Police officers in riot gear stand in formation on a service road near Mowdamin Mall, April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. The funeral service for Freddie Gray, who died last week while in Baltimore Police custody, was held on Monday morning. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27: Baltimore Police officers in riot gear walk toward protestors along Reisterstown Road near Mondawmin Mall, April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. A group of young protestors clashed with police in the streets near Mondawmin Mall in the afternoon following Freddie Gray's funeral. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold up their hands as they are confronted by Baltimore Police in riot gear while protesting the death Freddie Gray, an African American man who died of spinal cord injuries in police custody, in Baltimore, Maryland, April 25, 2015. Protesters returned to Baltimore's streets Saturday to vent outrage over the death of Gray on April 12. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

A state of emergency has been declared for the entire city of Baltimore as whole neighbourhoods were engulfed in rioting and destruction of property, plunging one more major American metropolis into civil turmoil over allegations of persistent police abuse of minorities.

Hundreds of mostly teenage African-Americans began a frenzied rampage, throwing rocks at police lines and torching police vehicles and some buildings, just hours after leaders of the community had gathered to to bury 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died one week being arrested by police with a severed spine.

The Governor of Maryland, Larry Hagan, said he declared the state of emergency and activated National Guard troops to try to return calm to the city as “last resort. For hours, the rioters had apparently had free run of parts of the city, ransacking shops and setting fires with little sign of a police response.

Officials said that 15 of their officers had been injured in the violent clashes, some with broken bones, and they were all receiving treatment.

Earlier a half-constructed community centre was hollowed out by fire, but officials couldn’t say if it was directly related to the unrest. Called the Mary Harvin Transformation Center, it was to serve local youth and family initiatives.

However, an outlet of the CVS chemist chain was also set on fire after looters ransacked it. “We went in there and tore it up,” a 16-year-old, who said he was one of the looters inside, told Reuters. When emergency crews attached a hose to a fire hydrant a protestor slashed it with a knife.

In the early hours of this morning there were reports of a second CVS set ablaze in the city. An unsual quiet early today was punctured by repeated sounds of sirens.

Source: Independent

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