As tensions run high in Baltimore, many in New York are keeping close watch. A former NYPD commander who headed the Baltimore police department says such violence can happen here. NY1's Dean Meminger filed this report.

New Yorkers familiar with Baltimore say tensions between police and residents—especially young people in that city—have been at a boiling point for years.

"Many of them are not really heard. Their future of course in a place like Baltimore is very tenuous towards success. And I believe they acted out," says retired NYPD Chief Kevin Clark.

Kevin Clark is a retired NYPD Chief and was Baltimore's Police Commissioner. He says factories have left Baltimore, creating poverty and despair. 

"It is probably some of the roughest neighborhoods in America. Baltimore has probably one of the most drug-addicted cities in the United States with heroin," Clark says.

Carl Dix, who has led anti-police brutality protests in New York, was raised in Baltimore and says it's a hard life.

"A lot of people growing up with no future and what they get is the police on them 24/7," says Carl Dix of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

Clark says he can't criticize what police did or didn't do during the rioting in Baltimore but that the violence after Freddie Gray's funeral can't be ignored. The Baltimore man suffered a broken spine while in police custody.

"I wasn't surprised that at some point there might be outbreak of civil disorder in the area. I didn't think it was going to be as large scale as it was," says Clark.

Dix says he will travel to Baltimore this week. He blames the city.

"I'm not going to say to people, 'You stood up wrong.' What I am going to do as a revolutionary—go and unite with them and say, 'Here is the source of the problem. This is built into the fabricate of this system. We have to stand up and take on that system,'" says Dix.

Clark warns—violence can erupt in New York. He says protests are usually peaceful, but there are always those looking for trouble.

"I would tell people in New York that it is time to take note of this because this show will appear in this city at some point whether we want to believe it or not," says Clark. "If they are that naive to believe that we cannot have civil unrest that will lead to vehicles being burned, stores being looted, then you are talking about naive approach."

The NYPD says it deals with protests all the time, and encourages organizers to work with police to ensure the safety of everyone involved.