A federal judge ruled that there is enough evidence in a lawsuit brought on by small business owners affected by the riots that broke out in Baltimore following the in-custody death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015.
City leaders claimed that they did a good job controlling the riots and argued the plaintiffs were “Monday morning quarterbacking.” The lawsuit, brought on by 70 plaintiffs, mostly small business owners, has been in the courts for four years, but Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephane Gallagher has opened the way for the case to go in front of a jury
The judge said the Maryland Riot Act makes the city obligated to protect residents and businesses during the unrest. In the ruling, the judge stated the act requires the city to take action to prevent “theft, damage or destruction.”
The plaintiffs argued that police were ordered to stand by as their businesses were vandalised and burned by the rioters. They claimed police stood by as many of them were attacked and injured during the riot.
The rioting that broke out in protest of Gray’s death while in police custody, led to the injuries of at least 20 police officers, the arrest of at least 250 people, and between 285 and 350 businesses damaged. Approximately 150 vehicles set ablaze, 60 structure fires, and 27 drug stores looted in the chaos (Law Enforcement Today).