Baltimore Resident Says ‘Black Community Took a Step Backward’ With Riots and Looting

Protesters block and push back an armored police vehicle near the fire-gutted CVS pharmacy in Baltimore on April 28, 2015, the day after rioting following the death and funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black man who died in police custody. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)
Protesters block and push back an armored police vehicle near the fire-gutted CVS pharmacy in Baltimore on April 28, 2015, the day after rioting following the death and funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black man who died in police custody. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

A street party atmosphere — or at least a glimpse of it — emerged Tuesday in the Upton neighborhood at the epicenter of rioting and looting after the funeral Monday of a man who died in police custody.

Street preachers called to the faithful, activists broke out their megaphones to rouse the crowds and throngs of people socialized, danced and sang against the backdrop of the burned out shell of a CVS drug store and a line of police in riot gear.

While the sun shone in a cloudless sky, the mood remained optimistic that non-violent protest would prevail, but as the sun set many residents wondered whether the city would descend into another night of chaos.

Baltimore on Tuesday looked like a city on edge as long phalanxes of National Guard ringed City Hall and lined up along the city’s iconic harbor. In Upton, a line of riot police confined protesters, media and onlookers to a broad intersection. Behind the police lines, armored police vehicles idled. And above, police helicopters hovered.

“I’m a man of faith. I hope for the best,” said Terrence Rogers, 22, youth minister at the Southern Baptist Church. “The lost kids of our generation need to be heard, but they also need guidance. They are just not mature enough to know there are ways to be heard without destruction.”

On Monday, angry mobs set buildings and cars ablaze, broke store windows, pried ATM machines from concrete walls and stripped store shelves bare. Police arrested more than 200 people, but mostly stood back as the rioters tore up parts of the city.

Tuesday began with a massive clean up. Residents with brooms swept glass from the streets and nailed plywood over gaping storefronts.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Donna Leinwand Leger

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