Much of the mainstream media coverage of the Baltimore riots has focused on the supposed misdeeds of police in a city with an alleged history of police brutality, but far less attention has been given to a number of complicating factors surrounding the outbreak.
Widespread rioting, looting, and burning erupted on Monday after the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was arrested in Baltimore on April 12 and died a week later from spinal injuries he suffered while in custody.
Here is a Newsmax look at the 17 things about the Baltimore riots the media won't tell you:
1. Gray had an arrest record. He had been arrested a total of 22 times in Maryland, primarily for possession and distribution of illegal narcotics. Gray had been involved in 20 criminal court cases, five of which were still active at the time of his death.
2. Gray was armed. Police found him carrying a switchblade knife.
3. Police pursued Gray after he made eye contact with officers and fled. That's sufficient cause for pursuit if the fleeing suspect is in a drug-invested area, which Gray was.
4. Police officers reportedly violated policy by not securing Gray with a seatbelt inside the police van after he was apprehended. But a policy written in 1997 said seatbelt use was discretionary. However, a new policy requiring their use was communicated to officers on April 9, just three days before Gray was arrested, and the police union president said many officers were not yet aware of the policy changes.
5. A friend of an officer who arrested Gray said the suspect wasn't secured in the van because officers were not able to bring him under control and were afraid he would attack or bite them.
6. Gray may have been intentionally trying to injure himself in the van. Multiple reports claimed Gray was not buckled because officers wanted to dole out extrajudicial treatment by deliberately giving him a rough ride. But another prisoner in the van with Gray told investigators that Gray was banging against the walls of the van and the prisoner believed he was intentionally trying to injure himself.
7. A call to "purge" circulated on social media among Baltimore students on the morning of the Monday riots. It was a reference to a 2013 movie depicting a 12-hour period when all crimes were legalized, and may have convinced the students that there would be no repercussions for rioting and looting.
8. The looting may have been premeditated, as a number of rioters arrived on the scene carrying crowbars. President Barack Obama said that when people "start opening doors to loot, they're not protesting."
9. Baltimore fought to open the CVS that was burned down. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Black's administration "worked very hard" to get CVS pharmacy to open a store in the low-income neighborhood where the rioting occurred, she said. It was the only new store in the area where residents could fill prescriptions, but rioters looted merchandise and burned the pharmacy down.
10. Firefighters attempting to quell the blaze were hampered when someone slashed a hose that had been turned on the flames.
11. Rioters also set fire to 144 vehicles, in addition to neighborhood businesses.
12. Protestors had already rampaged before the major riots broke out following Gray's funeral on Monday. The previous Saturday, protestors in downtown Baltimore — referred to as "agitators" by the city's mayor — became violent and damaged at least five police cars and pelted police with rocks. Six officers were injured.
13. Baltimore already had a serious crime problem. In a city of 645,000, there are reportedly an estimated 60,000 drug addicts, including 48,000 on heroin. Last year the city's murder rate was fifth in the nation, with 37.4 murders per 100,000 population.
14. The 1968 riots already wreaked havoc on parts of Baltimore. The neighborhood that was the scene of the worst riot violence was already filled with many burned-out buildings and vacant lots resulting from the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
15. As far away as Los Angeles, police were encouraged to ride in pairs. The order was in response to what Baltimore police determined was a "credible threat" of gang violence against police across the U.S.
16. Protestors in Philadelphia conducted a "Philly is Baltimore" demonstration at City Hall, drawing parallels between Gray's death and the death of a local man shot during a traffic stop in December. Evidence later indicated that Brandon Tate-Brown was reaching into his car for a loaded pistol when he was shot.
17. Just 25 percent of U.S. adults consider the riots to be an expression of legitimate outrage, according to a new Rasmussen Report survey, which said 63 percent characterize it as mostly criminals taking advantage of the situation.
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