The last evening service at Agudath Israel in Baltimore will start on time at 9:30 pm again Thursday evening, in deference to the curfew that city hall and police hope will keep the peace.
There were concerns about renewed violence late Thursday afternoon after CNN quoted a report by WJLA claiming that Freddie Gray’s neck was broken when his head hit the back of a police van in which he was riding after arrest. The information allegedly came from the Medical Examiner’s report that was leaked to the station.
Up to that point, city officials had been hoping for another march by protesters and what civil activists had been calling another night of “peace.”
At least 98 police officers were hurt in the past week, 43 of them seriously, in violence over the mystery of Gray’s injuries while in custody and his subsequent death. On Thursday, 106 people were released from custody after being arrested during violent rioting.
Malik Shabazz, the former head of the new Black Panther Party is involved in organizing the protests in Baltimore, Fox News reported Thursday. Since Tuesday police have been enforcing a 10 pm curfew that lasts until 5 am in the city. The National Guard — 2,000 troops — and 1,000 supplemental police officers from neighboring counties are providing additional support as well.
But across the United States the protests and civil unrest are spreading – again – as unidentified professional agitators add fuel to the fire, possibly with the encouragement of the “National Action Network” headed by Rev. Al Sharpton.
On Monday, Sharpton appeared in Baltimore and issued a statement that was later posted on his organization’s website. In the statement, Sharpton vowed to schedule a two-day march in May from Baltimore to Washington, “to bring the case of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Eric Harris to the new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Ms. Lynch, in her new role that we all supported, must look and intervene in these cases,” Sharpton contended. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Sharpton insisted that the Freddie Gray case “is not just a Baltimore problem” and said, “It is from Staten Island to Ferguson to North Charleston to Charleston, to here – and we’ve been involved in all of them.”
Speaking at a luncheon in Baltimore, he broadened the focus, adding, “There must be a national response to a national issue.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also appeared at that event, but unlike Sharpton, she promised those in attendance there would be justice. “If we can’t get justice in a town with a black mayor, a black police commissioner and a black state prosecutor, where in America do you think you are going to find it?” she asked.
One wonders about the effect of statements such as those by prominent civil rights leaders like Al Sharpton in spreading the violence to other cities.
In Ferguson, Missouri, violence was again reignited Wednesday night and store owners found themselves clearing up the wreckage of their businesses on Thursday morning. Businessman Sonny Dayan told CNN it was the fourth time the windows to his place had been smashed and his store looted since November 24, 2004.
In New York City, police prepared ahead of time and greeted protesters with flyers as they gathered at Union Square Wednesday evening. The papers provided the protesters with information about the laws, telling them exactly what was permissible and what was not, and what the consequences would be for violating the law. More than 100 would-be rioters were subsequently arrested in the Big Apple as thousands tried to pour into the streets and block traffic, but mostly failed.
Hana Levi Julian