National Guard in Baltimore as Man’s Death Sparks Riots

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Maryland National Guard
Members of the Maryland National Guard stand guard over the Baltimore city hall building in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 28. Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The National Guard and Baltimore police sought to prevent a second night of unrest following looting and violence that erupted after the funeral of a black man who died while in police custody.

The city also ordered a curfew beginning at 10 p.m. Many offices and business closed early, and the Baltimore Orioles baseball team postponed their game for a second straight night.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered hundreds of troops and state police into the city after rioters burned cars, clashed with officers and looted businesses.

Baltimore officials said there were few incidents during the day Tuesday, as peaceful protesters and residents gathered in the streets.

“Last night was a very rough period for our city, but today I think we saw a lot more of what Baltimore is about,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters on Tuesday. “We saw people coming together to reclaim our city, to clean our city and to help heal our city. I think this can be our defining moment, and not the darkest days that we saw yesterday.”

At least 20 officers were injured and 235 people were arrested in the violence that followed Monday’s funeral of Freddie Gray, 25, who died on April 19 after suffering spinal-cord injuries while in police custody. The strife follows unrest in other U.S. cities, such as Ferguson, Missouri, amid anger over the deaths of black men in encounters with law enforcement.

Street Party

In the hours before the curfew, the intersection of North and Pennsylvania avenues became the center of a rollicking party. High school cheerleaders danced in formation.

Melvin Townes, 16, carried a sign reading “Justice for Freddie Gray: Civil Rights Now.” Chris Jenkins, a 32-year-old banker, stopped to take a photo and thank young people for coming out peacefully.

“We want justice in the long term,” said Jenkins. “That’s going to mean some recognition of the issues at hand about the police.”

Officials closed Baltimore schools Tuesday, while the U.S. government shuttered Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offices early. T. Rowe Price Group Inc. said it closed its Baltimore headquarters.

Violence Erupts

Monday’s outbreak began when high school students gathered at the city’s Mondawmin Mall, where they began throwing concrete blocks and rocks at officers, Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts said. Television images showed looting at a check-cashing business and the destruction of a police vehicle in the city, which is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Washington. During the ensuing turmoil, some 144 vehicles were burned.

Authorities had indications that gangs decided at a meeting on Sunday they would attempt to kill officers after Gray’s funeral, Batts said.

“They said at the conclusion of Mr. Gray’s funeral today each group was intending to kill and take out a police officer,” he told reporters on Monday night.

Baltimore ordered a citywide curfew requiring residents to remain home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Mayor Rawlings-Blake said the restrictions would last for at least a week, and that juveniles were already subject to a curfew.

The Baltimore Orioles postponed their Tuesday game against the Chicago White Sox, after calling off the teams’ Monday night contest because of the riots. The clubs plan to play a game on Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore that’s closed to the public, according to a statement from the Orioles.

CVS Fire

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is about 2 miles from a CVS store that was looted and then set ablaze Monday. Police said rioters cut a hose that was being used to fight the fire.

“Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who in a very senseless way are trying to tear down what so many have fought for,” Rawlings-Blake said.

President Barack Obama denounced the violence while saying police departments must rebuild trust in their communities. He said what happened in Baltimore wasn’t a protest.

“When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement,” Obama said at a White House news conference Tuesday. “They’re stealing.”

The Justice Department has opened a preliminary civil-rights inquiry into Gray’s death, as the Obama administration scrutinizes law-enforcement practices nationwide.

Ferguson Police

Last month, the Justice Department criticized the civil-rights record of police in Ferguson after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by an officer in the St. Louis suburb.

Michael Brown’s shooting on Aug. 9 and several other incidents across the U.S., including the death of an unarmed black man who was placed in a chokehold by a white New York City police officer, sparked widespread protests.

Six Baltimore police officers have been suspended as authorities investigate the circumstances of Gray’s arrest and whether criminal charges are warranted.

John Kowalczyk of the Baltimore police department told reporters Tuesday that a “tremendous” number of law-enforcement officials are being deployed.

“Everyone in Baltimore is looking forward to peace returning,” he said.

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