Tuesday, April 28, 2015

As Baltimore Residents Clean Up, National Guard Steps In

At WSJ, "Hundreds of troops fan out over city following a night of unrest in wake of Freddie Gray funeral":
BALTIMORE—Maryland National Guard troops fanned out here Tuesday and residents began to repair neighborhoods as the city’s mayor defended the response to a previous night of riots and looting fueled by the recent death of a black man in police custody.

As a 10 p.m. curfew came and went Tuesday, a line of police behind riot shields used pepper balls and smoke grenades to disperse a crowd of about 200 at North and Pennsylvania avenues. Protesters tossed bottles at police, but no immediate arrests or serious injuries were reported before the crowd quickly dispersed.

On Monday night, upheaval roiled the city when roaming groups of youths faced off with police just hours after the funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died earlier this month after police arrested him.

City officials said fires consumed 19 buildings and 144 vehicles, while at least 20 police officers were injured and 235 people arrested. On Tuesday, shop owners covered storefronts with plywood, and many residents swept debris from streets. The acrid smell of charred vehicles and buildings hung in the air.

Government offices, schools and businesses closed or scaled back hours of operation.Johns Hopkins University canceled classes in the city.

In an unusual move, the Baltimore Orioles announced the team would play a scheduled game at its Camden Yards stadium in Baltimore on Wednesday but close it to the public. A three-game series starting Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays was moved to Florida.

Baltimore officials focused Tuesday on containing the immediate threat of additional lawlessness, beginning a weeklong, citywide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Schools were set to reopen Wednesday.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake defended her administration’s decision not to crack down heavily on a crowd of young people that clashed with police Monday afternoon before the confrontation spiraled into widespread mayhem that overwhelmed the city police force.

She said officers have to maintain safety while trying not to escalate tensions. “We worked very swiftly, and it’s a very delicate balancing act,” Ms. Rawlings-Blake said.

Gov. Larry Hogan said an influx of up to 2,000 Maryland National Guard troops, more than 400 state troopers and officers from other states would help ensure that chaos didn’t return to the city’s streets.

A person familiar with the governor’s thinking said Mr. Hogan believed Ms. Rawlings-Blake should have asked him to mobilize the National Guard earlier on Monday. The violence began at about 3 p.m. on Monday.

“Finally I believe around 6 o’clock, the mayor requested us to bring in the National Guard and declare a state of emergency,” Mr. Hogan said. “We did so immediately.”
Keep reading.

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