Baltimore Lifts Curfew

by | May 4, 2015 AT 12:40 PM

By Matt Pearce and W.J. Hennigan

After days of demonstrations and unrest, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake lifted the 10 p.m. curfew across the city, sparking a burst of celebrations.

"Effective immediately, I have rescinded my order instituting a citywide curfew," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement Sunday morning. "My goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary."

The curfew was first enforced Tuesday night, a day after looting and arson broke out after the wake for 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Gray suffered a spinal injury while being transported in a police van. He died a week later on April 19.

Many Baltimore residents had become irritated with the curfew and the mayor after multiple days of peaceful protests. Their frustration grew after State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby on Friday announced criminal charges against all six police officers accused of involvement in Gray's death.

"My No. 1 priority in instituting a curfew was to ensure the public peace, safety, health and welfare of Baltimore citizens," Rawlings-Blake said. "It was not an easy decision, but one I felt was necessary to help our city restore calm."

There are still 3,000 Maryland National Guard members spread across Baltimore's streets, standing in tan camouflage uniforms and armed with assault rifles.

Police said that since April 30, at least 486 people have been arrested. On Saturday, 42 adults and four juveniles were arrested on what was the final night of the city's controversial curfew, Baltimore Police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said Sunday.

"Over the weekend we've seen peace," said Kowalczyk, who did not give a breakdown on the charges involved in Saturday night's arrests. "Our focus is on asking people to continue to be peaceful."

Mondawmin Mall, where looters hauled away thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise in previous unrest, reopened in West Baltimore on Sunday afternoon.

At the intersection of North and Pennsylvania avenues _ the daily gathering spot for the protesters since Monday _ the mess of shattered windows, rocks and other signs of unrest were long gone.

Traffic passed through uninterrupted and people came and went, walking to neighbor's homes, corner shops or grocery stores.

Many attended church, heeding Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's call for a statewide "Day of Prayer and Peace" after last week's nonstop demonstrations.

"As we begin to rebuild and restore, let us renew our faith in the true spirit of our city and its people," he said in a statement. "I pray that (Sunday) will be a day of reflection and will serve as a foundation for how we all conduct ourselves in the days and months to come."

Inside the massive New Shiloh Baptist Church in West Baltimore, the morning light streamed through the orange-tinted stained glass windows as pastor Harold A. Carter Jr. preached to a rapt audience from the pulpit.

The church is where Gray's funeral was held less than a week earlier.

"Unless one is sleeping like Rip Van Winkle or under a rock ... everyone is mindful of all that has been transpiring here in our city," he said. "In spite of the aftermath of Monday evening and into Tuesday ... God is still watching over us."

Minutes later, those gathered _ the men dressed in pristine suits and women in bright dresses _ held one another's hands as they sang "Amazing Grace."

Carter said there were challenges ahead, but they will be overcome.

"The worst thing anybody can tell us is that we can't," he said to an applauding crowd. "We don't handle 'can't' well. Saying 'can't' to us is like saying 'sick 'em' to a dog. When you say 'can't' to us, you better get out of (the) way ... because that's the kind of spirit that's inside of us."

(Hennigan reported from Baltimore; Los Angeles Times staff writer Pearce reported from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Lauren Raab in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

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