Protests fill streets in Baltimore near Orioles-Red Sox game

A protester (left) fights with a patron outside of a bar near Oriole Park.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Protests against police in Baltimore brought baseball fans face-to-face with sometimes violent demonstrators and kept them contained inside the stadium until streets were cleared around Oriole Park on Saturday night.

Hundreds of protesters expressed their outrage over the death of Freddie Gray throughout the streets of Baltimore on Saturday, including near Camden Yards, where the Orioles were playing the Boston Red Sox.

Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, died in a hospital April 19, a week after suffering a spinal injury that allegedly occurred while he was being arrested. Baltimore police officers pinned Gray to the ground after a foot chase on April 12, and he was reportedly put into a police van and driven to the station. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said on Friday that Gray was not properly buckled while he was being transported.

Protests, which had been going on since Gray’s death, turned violent in several spots on Saturday, including in the vicinity of the stadium.

Dempsey’s Brew Pub & Restaurant at Camden Yards was damaged. News photographs captured protesters clashing with patrons at a group of bars — filled with fans on Orioles game days — across the street from the ballpark.

Local television showed a ring of policemen at barricades cordoning off a plaza next to the stadium, an area that features statues of Orioles greats and sculptures of retired numbers. A metal frame — possibly part of a barricade — came flying over the police onto the plaza. It came to rest next to the number 42 — honoring Jackie Robinson.

Fans who attempted to enter the ballpark through the main entrance were being told they needed to use other gates, as protesters yelled through the Camden Yards gates that police killed an innocent man.

Even as protests continued, blocking major intersections, the Orioles and Red Sox began their game basically on time, shortly after 7 p.m. ET. The announced crowd was 36,757. However, TV images in the early innings showed wide swaths of empty seats, unusual for when Boston is in town.

In the middle of the ninth inning, the public address announcer told fans that city officials requested no one leave because of "an ongoing public safety issue."

They were later allowed to leave but advised to avoid certain areas of the city. TV reports said fans who wanted to leave had to wait up to a half-hour before being allowed to exit the stadium.

However, when the majority of fans departed after the Orioles’ 5-4 victory in 10 innings, the streets around Camden Yards apparently were clear. Baltimore TV showed fans walking through downtown as if it were just another Saturday night O’s game.

Many of the Orioles followed protest coverage on TVs in the clubhouse.

“I understand they are fighting for a good cause," center fielder Adam Jones said, as reported by The Baltimore Sun. "I just want people to be safe. I don’t want people to be hurt. I understand, fight for your rights. It’s what you should do. But try to be safe and be smart about it.”

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