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"What I'm seeing of the people in Baltimore is that they have adapted by striking back," Washington said of his reaction to the situation. "And that's the only thing that you can hear. People want to call it riots -- I call it self defense."
The governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to restore order -- but authorities were still struggling to quell pockets of unrest after midnight. Rioters plunged part of Baltimore into chaos Monday, torching a pharmacy, setting police cars ablaze and throwing bricks at officers hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray.
Gray was arrested on April 12 after making eye contact with officers and then running away, police said. He was held down, handcuffed and loaded into a van without a seat belt. Leg cuffs were put on him when he became irate inside.
FULL STORY | Riots erupt in Baltimore after funeral of black man who died in police custody
"People want to debate the end result, but not talk about the cause. The cause is that we don't have answers," said Washington. "It's taking much too long to find out what happened to Freddie Gray."
Gray asked for medical help several times even before being put in the van, but paramedics were not called until after a 30-minute ride. Police have acknowledged he should have received medical attention on the spot where he was arrested, but they have not said how his spine was injured. He died on April 19.
"We need to talk about a denial that has been going on in this country," Washington said. "If we don't talk about a denial, then the cancer is going to continue to grow."
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Washington pointed to a much larger issue surrounding the unrest in Baltimore.
"The thing is, you have SWAT trucks that the National Guard called much faster into this community than you have a food truck, and a truck that's going to bring about jobs and education," Washington said. "...I would like to see trucks going in providing opportunities because this recession is so hard on us, on everyone. So whether you've got a black, red, yellow person in charge that's representing that ethnic group, it doesn't mean it's going to change because the circumstances in that neighborhood still haven't changed."
Connect with Isaiah Washington on Twitter @IWashington.
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