Baltimore resident Rashid Khan borrowed money from friends to open his grocery store two years ago -- a going concern in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. "Inside is gone, they broke everything," he said, speaking in the scarred streets of west Baltimore Tuesday, where hundreds of people, armed with rubber gloves and garbage bags, joined a clean-up effort amid heavy police presence. Freddie Gray died on April 19, a week after he was arrested by Baltimore police and somehow suffered severe spinal injuries. Protesters in Baltimore have staged nightly demonstrations since Gray's death, which descended into chaos on Monday following his funeral.
The rioting in Baltimore is a punch in the gut for a major American city struggling to overcome a history of drugs, crime, police brutality, poverty, population decline and economic hard times. Bustling bars and trendy shops fill the shiny redeveloped Inner Harbor district, and the hipster-friendly Hampden neighborhood reflects Baltimore's keen embrace of quirkiness. Benches at bus stops declare Baltimore to be "The Greatest City in America." Others like to call it "Charm City," a nickname dreamed up by advertising executives in the 1970s in the midst -- rather incongruously -- of a garbage strike. Opportunity can be as hard to find as a well-stocked grocery store, and everyone has a personal tale of police harassment.