Is this Really Charm City?


by Anna Kleczek

On Monday, April 27th, 2015, the city of Baltimore, Maryland, erupted into chaos. After black male Freddie Gray was laid to rest that day, riots immediately broke out all over the city, some even spreading throughout other cities.

Riots on Monday began around 3:00 P.M. when local high school students planned a “purge,” known from a flier that was found. By 3:30 P.M., protesters began confronting the riot police that had lined up, and even began to throw glass bottles and bricks at the police and journalists. Ten minutes later, a police officer was carried off the scene with injuries.

What was supposed to be a “peaceful protest” turned horribly wrong, and it only became worse as the night progressed. Police vehicles, civilian cars, and stores were trashed, looted, and even very badly burnt. Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, was closed due to violence in the city and all the games for that week were to be postponed. A specific event that occurred was when the CVS was burning down and when firefighters came to put the fire out: video footage shows a man trying to slash the hose that was used, prolonging the process of putting out the fire in his own city.

By 7:00 P.M., Baltimore was in a State of Emergency and the Army National Guard was called in to quell the riots. Army National Guard combat medic Neil Kleczek received his call around 3 A.M. on April 28; for the next week he and his unit assisted in the stabilization of the city.s..

Throughout that week, Kleczek and his unit patrolled the streets of Baltimore night and day. He mentioned how some people would throw bottles at them or scream slurs at them, when all they were doing was trying to help prevent their home from being destroyed.

But with the bad, always comes some good, right? Indeed. For example, little kids around the neighborhood where Kleczek was sleeping made all the soldiers their own individual care packages filled with little goodies. Another woman even greeted each soldier, expressing how much she appreciates their work and for defending her home against all of the violence.

Overall, this is how Kleczek explained his experience as;

“It was cool to be a part of such a unified family (National Guard) and helping people in need as a whole. But it was sad to see what the other side of things look like. I realized how privileged I am to be where I am today and have the things I have. It was such a horrible scene to see happening in basically your backyard, over something that could have just been simply disagreed with by a peaceful protest. I hope the ordeals in other cities as well as this one get resolved. It is sad that there are so many lives that go unacknowledged, like soldiers fighting overseas for our safety or police officers on the front lines keeping people from getting killed.  Every life should be appreciated rather than disrespected with destroying a whole city to prove a point. How about becoming the change that you would like to see in the world?”

The Baltimore riots slowly came to an end a week later around Tuesday, May 5th, when all mayhem seemed to come to a rest. An estimated 130 police officers received riot related injuries, but the outcome could have been way worse. May the Baltimore officers and visiting officers continue to do their job serving in the line of duty as well as everyone else involved in the positives of the Baltimore riots, safely and easily.