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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

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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