Published On: Wed, Apr 29th, 2015

Tense Baltimore stages huge police presence to prevent second night of violence

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Baltimore protest continues

As dusk fell Tuesday night, Baltimore was a city on edge – bracing for further violence while hoping that a huge police presence and a 10 p.m. curfew would prevent a second night of rioting.

At a late afternoon press conference, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said there would be 2,000 National Guardsmen on duty Tuesday night, along with 1,000 law enforcement officers, and “this combined force will not tolerate violence or looting.”

The streets were largely calm into early evening, with the real test expected to come after the curfew was in place.

But the results of Monday night’s rioting were everywhere – in the burned out cars and buildings, the looted stores and the lives of innocents who lost everything in the violence that led to a reported 235 arrests and left 20 police officers injured.

Baltimore public schools were closed. The Baltimore Orioles canceled Tuesday’s night’s game at Camden Yards and said Wednesday’s contest would be closed to the public.

The looting and rock and bottle throwing broke out just hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody. It was the worst such violence in the U.S. since the unrest that erupted last year over the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Early Tuesday evening, about 100 peaceful marchers arrived at City Hall, chanting “Baltimore matters,” “Freddie Gray matters,” “black lives matter,” “white lives matter.”

Political leaders and residents called the violence a tragedy for the city and lamented the damage done by the rioters to their own neighborhoods.

“The same community they say they care about, they’re destroying. You can’t have it both ways,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

As the day wore on, police fielded rumors of would-be rioters gathering at various places in and around Baltimore, but as of late afternoon, only a few scattered arrests were reported.

The street corner where some of the worst violence occurred resembled a street festival. Musicians played in the intersection, surrounded by an appreciative crowd, street vendors hawked bottles of water, and the crowd largely ignored the line of police in riot gear stretched across West North Avenue.

The city of 622,000 is 63 percent black. The mayor, state’s attorney, police chief and City Council president are black, as is 48 percent of the police force.

“You look around and see unemployment. Filling out job applications and being turned down because of where you live and your demographic. It’s so much bigger than the police department,” said Robert Stokes, 36, holding a broom and a dustpan on a corner where some of the looting and vandalism took place.

He added: “This place is a powder keg waiting to explode.”

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