Video surveillance taken from a Baltimore street corner April 27 shows city police officers largely allowing looters and rioters to destroy police vehicles and stores during chaos that unfolded in the hours after Freddie Gray’s funeral.
The video surveillance, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, shows the gradual transition from a seemingly normal Baltimore street corner to a chaotic, violent scene. It also shows the disastrous result of police commanders’ “hold the line” orders, which were given via radio transmission.
The riots, which were a response to Gray’s April 19 death, resulted in damage to 380 buildings. More than 60 buildings were burned as well, according to The Sun.
Soon into the video surveillance, at around 4:25 p.m., groups of youth are seen entering a busy street and pelting an unmanned police cruiser with projectiles. The youth are then seen kicking out the windshield of the cop car and jumping on its hood.
A SWAT unit enters the scene and the teens scatter. But they reconvene soon after and begin looting a CVS drug store, a check-cashing store and a grocery store. They also destroy other police vehicles in the area, while also setting a Maryland Transportation Administration vehicle on fire.
According to The Sun, a line of police officers forms for the first time at 4:41 p.m. They remained in a phalanx position until shortly after 6 p.m. In the meantime, hundreds of Baltimore residents remain in the streets, destroying and looting.
The officers slowly begin to advance towards the epicenter of the chaos, and eventually seal off the intersection.
As the officers advance, protesters and rioters continue to confront them. A group of community leaders wearing suits appear at one point to stand between the officers and rioters.
According to The Sun, which also obtained police radio transmission, officers were ordered to “hold the line” and not to advance on troublemakers in the area.
In one radio exchange, an officer yells, “we’re getting creamed.” The officer is given instructions to “hold the line.” A supervisor also instructs them, “do not go forward and chase them.”
“Hold that line, hold that line. Do not advance; hold the line,” the supervisor says.