Freddie Gray Protest Leads To Clashes With Baltimore Police

Protesters and police clashed in Baltimore amid growing tension over the unexplained death of Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a fatal spinal injury while in police custody on April 19.

While most of the thousands protesting the death of Gray were peaceful, some demonstrators began to destroy property and confront law enforcement who were out en masse to ensure that all were safe.

Late Saturday night, Baltimore police said they had made at least 15 arrests. Fox Baltimore's Larry Collins said two police officers were injured during the demonstrations, along with at least two other people according to an Associated Press report. Five, if not more police cars were damaged, CNN reported.

Baltimore's mayor and police commissioner denounced those who introduced violence and destruction into the protests.

Most of the problems were near Camden Yards, Baltimore's ballpark.

Tweets from the scene show a protester smashing the back window of a police vehicle and police in riot gear chasing protesters, and on occasion engaging in scuffles with protesters.

Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles were playing the Boston Red Sox, was placed on lock down due to the protests surrounding the stadium.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said that sometime after 6 p.m. EDT, a more violent group of protesters advanced at officers near Camden Yards, but residents stepped in to keep the peace, according to Fox Baltimore.

"Residents put themselves in between police officers and this agitated crowd and asked for calm and asked for peace," Batts said, "which was very good to see."

Officers also filed in to the area as demonstrators became destructive, after which some protesters dispersed.

Spectators trapped inside the ballpark were later allowed to leave.

Some local businesses appeared to have been looted during the demonstrations.

A portion of I-83 was closed due to the protests, police said.

Videos showed people throwing objects at police.

Making her first public comments since her brother's death, Gray's twin sister Fredricka joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to urge protesters to remain peaceful.

"My family wants to say, can you all please, please stop the violence?" Gray said. "Freddie Gray would not want this. Freddie's father and mother did not want nobody ... Violence does not get justice."

"Please, please stop the violence. Freddie Gray would not have wanted this," Gray's sister said. Fredricka Gray was joined by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Saturday to call for demonstrations to be peaceful.

The chaos follows a day of peaceful protests in which hundreds marched and called for the Baltimore police to be held responsible for Gray's death.

The Baltimore Sun reported on the evening's events:

More than 100 officers – wearing helmets, batons, gloves and vets – blocked protesters at Howard and Pratt streets, and began to make arrests. State police in full tactical gear have been deployed to the city, and more are being sent to respond to the crowd that’s beginning to become unruly.

The exact circumstances of Gray's death are still unclear. Police say they chased and arrested Gray after he made eye contact with officers and ran from them. They caught Gray and loaded him into a police van, where his arms and legs were cuffed but he was not buckled in with a seat belt -- a violation of department policy.

At some point while he was in police custody, lawyers for Gray's family say, his spine was nearly severed. During the 30-minute ride in the police van, Gray repeatedly asked for medical care. He died a week later.

Six officers involved in the incident are currently suspended. Baltimore police said in Gray's charging documents that he was in possession of a "switchblade knife," and that he was arrested "without force or incident." Gray's family has accused police of staging a cover-up. Cell phone video of Gray's arrest appears to show him being dragged, limp and screaming, into the police van.