By Tom Foreman Jr.
Amanda Lee Myers
BALTIMORE — Rioters plunged part of Baltimore into chaos Monday, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officers hours after thousands mourned the man who died from a severe spinal injury he suffered in police custody.
The governor declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to restore order, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in her first day on the job, said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days. A weeklong, daily curfew was imposed beginning today from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the mayor said. At least 15 officers were hurt, and some two dozen people were arrested. Two officers remained hospitalized, police said.
“The National Guard represents the last resort in restoring order,” Gov. Larry Hogan told a news conference. “I have not made this decision lightly.”
Officers wearing helmets and wielding shields occasionally used pepper spray to keep the rioters back. For the most part, though, they relied on line formations to keep protesters at bay.
Monday’s riot was the latest flare-up over the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, whose fatal encounter with officers came amid the national debate over police use of force, especially when black suspects are involved. Gray was African-American. Police have declined to specify the races of the six officers involved in his arrest, all of whom have been suspended with pay while they are under investigation.
Emergency officials were constantly thwarted as they tried to restore calm. Firefighters trying to put out a blaze at a CVS store were hindered by someone who sliced holes in a hose connected to a fire hydrant, spraying water all over the street and nearby buildings.
The smell of burned rubber wafted in the air in one neighborhood where youths were looting a liquor store.
Police stood still nearby as people drank looted alcohol. Glass and trash littered the streets, and other small fires were scattered about.