2015 Baltimore Riots

2015 Baltimore Riots

Part of a series on Freddie Gray's Death. [View Related Entries]

Updated May 23, 2016 at 05:11PM EDT by Brad.

Added Apr 28, 2015 at 12:05PM EDT by Don.

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2015 Baltimore Riots were a period of civil unrest that erupted in Baltimore, Maryland following the death of the 25-year-old African American man Freddie Gray under police custody in April 2015.


On the morning of April 12th, 2015, Baltimore resident Freddie Gray was arrested and taken into custody by the Baltimore Police Department for possession of a switchblade knife. The scene of his arrest was captured on video footage by two bystanders, which shows Gray being carried into the van by multiple officers. According to the police report, within 30 minutes the arrest, Gray suddenly fell into a coma while being transported, prompting the attention of paramedics before he was taken to the University of Maryland's R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where it was discovered that he had sustained severe injuries to his spinal cords and larynx. In the following week, Gray remained unconscious and underwent extensive surgery; on April 19th, a week after his arrest, Gray was ultimately pronounced dead.

Community Reactions

In the days following Gray's death, hundreds of local residents began assembling in downtown Baltimore to march down the streets adjacent to the scene of Gray's arrest and stage a demonstration outside the city's Western District police headquarters. According to Reuters and local news media outlets, the protest was peaceful.

Official Statements

On April 21st, Baltimore Police Department suspended six officers involved in the arrest due to an internal investigation of Gray's death, in addition to the launch of a federal investigation by the United States Justice Department. The next day, Gene Ryan, the president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement expressing sympathy for the Gray family, while condemning the anti-police rhetorics of protests by likening the local reaction to a "lynch mob." Ryan's remark was met with heavy backlash from the family's attorney, as well as the national news media outlets, most notably in a New York Times op-ed column titled "‘Lynch Mob’: Misuse of Language."

On May 1st, Maryland's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced 28 criminal charges against six Baltimore Police Department officers involved in Gray's arrest, Officers Caesar R. Goodson Jr., William G. Porter, Edward M. Nero and Garrett F. Miller, Lieutenant Brian W. Rice and Sergeant Alicia D. White, for various crimes ranging from second-degree murder to manslaughter and misconduct, among others (listed below). During the press conference held on the steps of the War Memorial Building, Mosby delivered a speech condemning the police officers for arresting an innocent man without probable cause and lethally assaulting him.

  • Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr.: Second-degree depraved heart murder (30 years), Involuntary manslaughter (10 years), Second-degree assault (10 years), Gross negligent manslaughter by vehicle (10 years), Criminal negligent manslaughter (3 years), Misconduct in office
  • Officer William G. Porter: Involuntary manslaughter (10 years), Second-degree assault (10 years), Misconduct in office
  • Officer Edward M. Nero: Two counts of Second-degree assault (10 years each), two counts of Misconduct in office, False imprisonment
  • Officer Garrett F. Miller: Two counts of Second-degree assault (10 years each), two counts of Misconduct in office, False imprisonment
  • Sergeant Alicia D. White: Involuntary manslaughter (10 years), Second-degree assault (10 years), Misconduct in office
  • Lieutenant Brian W. Rice: Involuntary manslaughter (10 years), two counts of Second-degree assault (10 years each), two counts of Misconduct in office, False imprisonment

Notable Developments

April 25th: Protests

On April 25th, 2015, thousands of Baltimore residents participated in a massive rally by marching from the Baltimorean city hall to Inner Harbor, during which a small contingent of unruly protesters began throwing rocks at police officers and damaging vehicles. As a result, at least 34 people were arrested and 15 police officers were injured, while two photojournalists were forcefully subdued and briefly taken into custody while attempting to photograph the scenes of the escalating violence. Upon release, a video clip of J.M. Giordano, a photographer for Baltimore City Paper, getting swarmed and beaten by two police officers, was published on the online edition of the publication.

April 27th: Memorial Service

On April 27th, the memorial service for Freddie Gray was held at the New Shiloh Baptist Church, which was joined by civil rights leaders, families of other people killed by police, and politicians including Congressman Elijah Cummings, Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, White House adviser Heather Foster, and Elias Alcantara of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Escalation of Violence

However, by early afternoon that same day, the Baltimore Police Department had reportedly issued a warning of "potentially violent activities on the rise" across the city. Around 3 p.m., a confrontation erupted between the police in riot gear and a group of about 100 youthful protesters who began throwing bricks and bottles at the officers. In response to the unrest, a handful of schools, universities and major businesses closed early and several professional sporting events were postponed to a later date. Meanwhile, several police vehicles were destroyed and set on fire and a CVS pharmacy store in downtown Baltimore was looted and set ablaze.

Online Reactions

As violence continued to escalate, hundreds of photographs and videos from the day-long protests began to emerge online, with several videos instantly going viral on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. On April 28th, the hashtag #BaltimoreUprising was the top trending term in the American Northeast, with over 22,000 mentions.

A photograph of the April 25 rioters standing on a Baltimore police car was superimposed with the text "All HighSchools Monday @3 We Are Going To Purge From Mondawmin To The Ave, Back To Downtown #Fdl"[12] and distributed on social media[13] and as flyers.[14]

Camden Yards Purse Snatching Controversy

During the riots on April 25th, 2015, in front of Camden Yards Ballpark in Baltimore, a photograph was taken of a scuffle where a redheaded woman and a man were engaged in a fight over a purse. A rumor quickly spread through social media that the woman was drunkenly attacking the man, who was holding the purse.

sagesurge 7 hours ago +Follow Just so we're 1,000% clear: the drunk redhead is trying to steal the man's bag. The other women are pulling her away from him #Facts #getyourfactsstraight #media #mediapropaganda #propaganda #protesters #protest#Baltimore #BaltimorePurge #Baltimorenots #BaltimoreProtest #baltimoremaryland #Maryland #police #riot #riots #nationalguard #rocks #teenagers #rioters #news #looting #kids #w-- #drunk Instagram 27 likes 8 comments

On April 27th, Imgur user CumInMyMeowth posted a detailed investigation of the origin of the rumor, attributing it to two reporters from Baltimore's CityPaper. As of April 28th, 2015 the post had received more than 120,000 views and 273 points. In an article posted the next day by one of the reporters named, Brandon Soderbergh, he claimed even though he was there he was not really sure of what was happening.

Later that day, Redditor throwawayspot8 started an explanatory thread to /r/baltimore, claiming to be the woman in question. In the original post, she explained that she had not been drunk, and that the man had actually been attempting to steal her purse. The post received 323 points (88% upvoted).

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