Baltimore riots: Singaporean student saw the city burning

Baltimore riots: Singaporean student saw the city burning

She was studying in her university dormitory when she witnessed a dramatic sight.

"I looked out my window and saw part of the city burning," said Miss Kylie Liu, 21, a Singaporean studying at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, in the US.

Buildings about 100m away were engulfed in flames, lighting up the sky at about 10pm on Tuesday (10am Wednesday Singapore time).

Her friends, who were caught outside when the Baltimore riots began three days ago, ran back to the university campus as quickly as they could.

None of the 10 Singaporean students studying at the university was injured, said Miss Liu, president of the university's Singapore Students Association.

She told The New Paper that the university has been shut down since yesterday and a curfew was imposed on the city from 10pm to 5am.

Miss Liu also heard the sirens of police cars and fire engines sent out to quell the riots and put out the fires.

She said: "It was scary to be this close to the violence. Even though the violence has died down, tensions are still high."

Mr Tommy Koh, 19, another Singaporean student at Johns Hopkins University, said: "There were about 15 buildings that were burned down within the city that night, with many others being looted.

"There were also instances of looting near the campus, including places within a 10-block radius of the university."

The university sent updates via text messages and e-mail to students about what was happening. It warned students that the governor had declared a state of emergency in the city and that all students were urged to remain on campus or in their off-campus residences.

One e-mail from the university said: "If you do not need to go out, please do not." It added that the situation was "volatile and fluid".

DAILY LIVES

Asked if their daily lives were affected, the two students said they do not visit the area of Baltimore that was most affected.

Miss Liu said she did not travel far to get her daily supplies and groceries, opting for a nearby store - even if things were more expensive. But she knew of students living off-campus who were stocking up on supplies in case they were not be able to leave their homes.

Miss Liu told TNP that crime and social unrest were a part of the city's history.

She said: "Race relations is a very deep rooted issue that's often swept under the rug. It's got better now, but we still have huge problems."

The rioters were protesting the death on April 19 of Freddie Gray, 25, a black man who was taken into custody by the Baltimore Police Department for possession of a switchblade. He slipped into a coma while being transported and later died.

Mr Gray's death reignited a public outcry over police treatment of African-Americans, which flared last year after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, Cleveland and elsewhere.

The rioting in Baltimore was the most violent since the demonstrations in Ferguson last year.


This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
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