Baltimore Police Suffer 'Major Injuries' during Violent Overnight Protests over Death of Freddie Gray

( [email protected] ) Apr 28, 2015 01:28 PM EDT
(Photo : Getty Images)
Protesters break the window of a police car during a demonstration in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 25.

Despite calling for peace, 15 police officers have suffered "major injuries," including one who is unconscious and others with broken bones as law enforcement and protesters, upset over the recent death of Freddie Gray, clashed on the streets of Baltimore on Monday night. 

On Monday, Capt. Eric Kowalczyk described those responsible for the violence as "outrageous criminals" and emphasized that officers are working to restore order and arrest those who attacked police.

"You're going to see tear gas. You're going to see pepper balls. We're going to use appropriate methods to ensure that we're able to preserve the safety of that community," he said, CNN reported.

Speaking on Tuesday, Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, criticized the rioters for the damage and promised a strong response. "It's not going to happen again," Mr. Hogan said of the violence.

A short time earlier, Baltimore Police Department revealed it had received "credible information" that members of various gangs including the Black Guerilla Family, Bloods, and Crips have entered into a partnership to "take-out" law enforcement officers.

Tensions have remained high in Baltimore following the death of Gray, the 25-year-old who died April 19 after being severely injured while in police custody. While it remains unclear as to exactly what happened during Gray's time in police custody, he was reportedly left with a crushed trachea and severed spine, as well as a broken leg, which put him in a coma. He died less than a week later. 

Gray's untimely death sparked a strong reaction from the public, as it comes in the wake of multiple deaths of black men at the hands of police, including Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, and Walter Scott.

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, a few protesters over the weekend  vandalized police cars, threw objects at officers, cursed at them and scuffled with them. Recent video footage of the violence shows a dozen young men smashing squad cars with garbage cans before climbing on top of them and stomping on them.

Speaking on Sunday, Gray's twin sister Fredericka urged the local community to continue to demonstrate peacefully and refrain from violence.

"My family wants to say, 'Can y'all please, please stop the violence. Freddie Gray would not want this," she said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also issued a "call for peace," during a televised news conference on Saturday evening. "I'm grateful to the many demonstrators who sought to make their concerns heard in a peaceful and respectful manner," she said."Unfortunately, a small group of agitators intervened and turned what was otherwise a peaceful demonstration into a violent protest." 

Rep. Elijah Cummings echoed the sentiment during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," where he thanked people who had worked to keep the peace, even during the riots.

"At the end, there were a few people who said, 'We're going to close this city down,' and the next thing you know, we had a few people, mainly from out of town, to come and to start beating up on police cars and throwing all types of projectiles. They are doing the best that they can under the circumstances," Cummings said of the police. "We've got to take this department apart and figure out what is wrong and what is right."

Also on Monday, thousands of mourners and supporters descended on New Shiloh Baptist Church for the Gray's funeral. Speakers included Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Cummings, who emphasized that justice was needed not just for Gray, but for everyone.

"I've often said that our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see," Cummings said, USA Today reported. "But now our children are sending us to a future they will never see. There's something wrong with that picture!"

"Do you know what I want? I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That's all. That's what Freddie wanted," he added, quoting the Bible verse Amos 5:24.