Baltimore Ravens fans are rioting in the streets to protest running back Ray Rice’s release by their beloved NFL franchise.
According to local reports, 17 people were arrested last night after fans overturned cars, looted retail stores, and threw Molotov cocktails at police. Three injuries have been reported, one of them critical.
Rice was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Ravens, and developed into a three-time Pro-Bowl running back. His contract was terminated yesterday after video emerged of him punching his fiancée in an elevator.
“This is the most unjustified penalty in football since they fired Joe Paterno for covering up child sex abuse,” proclaimed one outraged fan while looting a Harris Teeter grocery store. “I mean, there was no audio on that tape. What if she said something to provoke him?
“Couldn’t they have at least waited for the audio to come out? This guy rushed for over 600 yards last year. They owe him that much at least.”
Rice assaulted his wife in a casino elevator this February, knocking her out cold with a single punch. Although video showed him dragging her body from the elevator, prosecutors declined to press charges.
The NFL suspended him for two games over the incident, a punishment many considered to be too lenient. Shortly afterwards the league announced a new domestic violence policy that stiffened penalties for future violations, but left Rice’s punishment unchanged.
Yesterday TMZ published full video of the altercation on their website, including the hitherto unseen punch. The resulting cascade of outrage forced the Ravens to finally release Rice, despite the heavy football consequences for the team.
The NFL and the Ravens organization have attracted withering criticism for their handling of the situation. However, many were also outraged by the reaction of Ravens fans to the controversy.
Rice was given a standing ovation by fans during preseason practice and many parents dressed their children in his jersey for last weekend’s game. Such disgraceful behavior continued today.
“I brought my two sons out here today to teach them a lesson about standing up for what you believe in,” one fan told WBAT-TV while setting a Toyota on fire. “I'll be damned if I’m gonna watch my team go 5 and 9 because of political correctness.
“First the media went after Paula Deen for using the N-word. Now they’re coming after Ray Rice for playfully wrestling with his wife. What’s the world coming to?”
The media was the most common target of the protestors, with several overturning news vans covering the violence. However, many also faulted the NFL for its role in ending Rice’s career in Baltimore.
“We have the Saints and the Dolphins on the schedule this year,” says one protester,“I’m starting to think the NFL wants to build a system of punishment that’s blind to how good players are on the field. It’s insane.”