BALTIMORE, Maryland — Racial protests supposed to be peaceful quickly turned into violent riots on Saturday evening, closing down the city of Baltimore for some time—and creating a panic for thousands of people as just 50 miles away elites in Washington partied with President Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Bullpen Bar sits between Pickles Pub and Sliders Bar & Grill. Outside each of the brick-faced bars, on the days of Orioles Games, each bar puts out barricades about 20 feet from their front doors. Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of fans from each team—the Orioles, and in the case of Saturday night, the Red Sox—pack into three bars and the barricaded-off space in front before each game. Inside and outside of each, bartenders serve “cheap beer”—or so the $6-per-tall-boy-cans are advertised on big signs—while hotdogs, sausages and other pastime favorites are sold by each and by vendors who set up tents across the street. The blue collar culture—and really friendly people—are what make Baltimore baseball games so much fun, and there’s no better place to kick off an adventure into Camden Yards than here.
Several people across the street from these bars—between there and the stadium, which is less than 100 yards away—were holding signs that said #BlackLivesMatter. They were protesting the death of Freddie Gray, who Agence France Press newswire wrote “died last Sunday from spinal injuries, a week after his arrest in the city’s impoverished west side.”
All of a sudden—What were peaceful marchers holding up signs turned into violent rioters. Innocent fans standing by were confronted by the rioters, who physically and verbally threateningly engaged many of them—and then the protesters got even more violent. Beer bottles and cans, and other projectiles were lobbed by the protesters into the crowds of fans.
The crowd of protesters then stopped a blue station wagon carrying a white family as they tried to drive past Pickles, Bullpen and Sliders along a narrow one-way stretch between the bars and the main road. As a horde of them smashed their open and closed fists on the hood of the car—while impeding them by standing in front of them—the driver backed up on the one way pass in a desperate attempt to get out of dodge. Then, stopped on the other side with nowhere to go, protesters ripped open the passenger door of the car and began reaching around inside the vehicle.
The group of black men who ripped open the car door suddenly realized they were separated from the larger group of protesters and abandoned their quest to seemingly either carjack the station wagon or rob the people inside in front of hundreds, driving out of the one-way street back onto the main road and presumably out of dodge.
My brother, at this point, was screaming at the group of five or so police officers. “Why aren’t you doing anything? They’re hurting people! They’re hurting people! They’re violent!” he yelled at them as they continued ignoring him and not engaging or attempting to stop the violence.
As the game progressed, however, the situation outside throughout Baltimore clearly got worse. All of a sudden, several police helicopters took to the skies and fans sitting around us talked about how they got text messages from friends watching the news at home throughout the Baltimore area warning them to get out of the stadium while they still could.
The mayor of Baltimore, due to a public safety emergency outside, had “asked” everyone inside to stay in the stadium and not try to leave.