Police descend on Baltimore to enforce curfew after riots
Updated: 2015-04-29 10:41
National Guard troops stand watch along E. Pratt St. in Baltimore, Maryland April 28, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
BALTIMORE - As night falls on Baltimore on Tuesday, thousands of police and National Guard troops fanned out to enforce a new curfew and prevent further violence as the mayor fended off criticism that she responded sluggishly to a night of rioting, looting and fires.
More than 3,000 police from Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, and National Guard members in helmets, took up posts in front of businesses and hospitals in Baltimore a day after the worst rioting in the United States in years.
Shops were looted, buildings burned to the ground, 20 officers injured and police arrested more than 250 people in the violence that erupted following Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died in a hospital on April 19 a week after sustaining injuries in police custody.
The death of Freddie Gray gave new energy to the public outcry that flared last year after police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri; New York City and elsewhere.
For nearly a week after Gray died from a spinal injury, protests in Baltimore had been peaceful and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she acted cautiously on Monday because she wanted to avoid a heavy-handed response that would incite more violence.
"It's a very delicate balancing act, when we have to make sure that we're managing but not increasing and escalating the problem," said Rawlings-Blake, 45, an African-American and Democrat who grew up in the city 40 miles (64 km) from Washington.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he had called Rawlings-Blake repeatedly Monday but that she held off requesting the National Guard until three hours after looting started.
"The mayor of Baltimore had the city of Baltimore police on the ground. Quite frankly, they were overwhelmed. All the rest of the (boots) on the ground came from us," the Republican governor said the day after declaring a state of emergency in the largely black city.Rawlings-Blake imposed a one-week curfew but stressed the need to respond in a way that did not incite more violence.