Breaking: Rioting, Burning, Massive Looting in Baltimore (Updated: National Guard Called Out)

Following the funeral of a young black man, Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, several hundred rioters confronted police and began to tear up West Baltimore.

I've been watching the WJLA live coverage of the rioting, and the scenes being shown are incredible. "Like a war zone" said the reporter of a business section of one neighborhood, as businesses are burning because firefighters refuse to respond until police can assure them they can be kept safe.

Looters are targeting pharmacies, grocery stores, liquor stores, cell phone stores -- apparently any business selling anything that rioters want. Police have virtually disappeared in some neighborhoods, giving the rioters a free pass.

The Washington Post is giving regular updates:

Protesters are looting a check-cashing business and other stores in Baltimore, busting through the windows and climbing inside to take items.

Cars have been lit on fire and a large group of youths threw rocks, bricks and other items at police. As people arrived home from work, some yelled at the youths to stop causing trouble.

“I never thought I’d see something like this happen in my neighborhood,” said Ted Bushrod, 32, who’s lived in the area all his life.

Bushrod, who said his father died in an officer-involved shooting involving the Baltimore Police Department, criticized the violence.

“It’s disappointing. I understand the kids’ frustration. We go through this every day,” he added, referring to black people being targeted for their race in Baltimore.

Freddie Gray, who is black, died after he suffered injuries while in police custody.

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5:35 p.m.

Police are urging parents to locate their children and bring them home after youths clashed violently with police in Baltimore.

Baltimore police made the announcement on its Twitter feed. A group of youths threw bricks, rocks and other items at police during a violent clash hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray. At least seven police officers were injured.

A lot of the youths clashing with police had backpacks and were wearing khaki pants, which are a part of many Baltimore public school uniforms.

The activity broke out just as high school let out, and at a key city bus depot for student commuters.

Gray died April 19. He suffered injuries in police custody. Authorities are investigating.

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5:15 p.m.

Groups of youths are looting a convenience store near downtown Baltimore.

They busted out the window of the closed businesses, and piled in. Police in riot gear began forming a line nearby.

A helicopter circled overhead as groups of roving youths moved through the city. Television footage showed one group of demonstrators pile on top of and ride a car as it drove in the street.

We will update this post when necessary.

Update:

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued a state of emergency and called out the National Guard to deal with the growing violence and mayhem in Baltimore.

More than 2,000 police from several different jurisdictions, including state police, Prince George's County police, and county sheriffs, have been pouring into the city for the last several hours. But as the violence has grown, police have been unable to keep up with the rolling gangs of youths torching businesses and cars, looting, and threatening bystanders. That's why Governor Hogan has called out the National Guard to restore order.

Update II

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the rioting was a planned event,  urged by social media and flyers at area high schools.

The incident stemmed from a flier that circulated widely among city school students via social media about a “purge” to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on the film "The Purge," about what would happen if all laws were suspended.

The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.

The paper is also reporting that many of the rioters are wearing the uniform of  the Baltimore public high schools.