( 4UMF NEWS ) Citizens Clean Baltimore Streets After Riots:
Citizens armed with brooms and trash bags hit the streets of Baltimore Tuesday morning to clean what Monday’s riots left behind.
The group swept away shattered glass and picked trash from the street as riot police stood guard with lowered shields.
“I decided to get out the bed and help clean up my community,” one resident told News4’s Aaron Gilchrist.
The scene was a stark contrast to Monday’s unrest when rioters plunged part of Baltimore into chaos. The riots began hours after thousands mourned a man who died from a severe spinal injury he suffered in police custody.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to restore order “less than 30 seconds” after the request from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The Maryland State Police, backed by the Maryland National Guard, will be in charge of bringing order to the city.
“The National Guard represents the last resort in restoring order,” Hogan told a news conference. “I have not made this decision lightly.”
A week-long, daily curfew was imposed beginning Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the mayor said, and Baltimore public schools announced that they would be closed on Tuesday. State Offices in Baltimore city will also be closed, according the Maryland State website.
The violence, which began in West Baltimore — within a mile of where Freddie Gray was arrested and pushed into a police van earlier this month — had by the end of the day spread to East Baltimore and neighborhoods close to downtown and near the baseball stadium.
Twenty-seven people have been arrested and at least fifteen officers were injured, 6 seriously, as authorities were still struggling to quell pockets of unrest after midnight.
Gray’s family condemned the violence, and his twin sister, Fredericka, called it “wrong.”
“I want y’all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here,” Gray’s mother said at press conference Monday evening.
The attorney for Gray’s family, Billy Murphy, said the family had hoped to organize a peace march later in the week.
Earlier Monday, the smell of burned rubber wafted in the air in one neighborhood where youths were looting a liquor store. Police stood still nearby as people drank looted alcohol. Glass and trash littered the streets, and other small fires were scattered about.
“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, tearing down businesses, tearing down and destroying property, things that we know will impact our community for years,” said Rawlings-Blake, a lifelong resident of the city.
Officers wearing helmets and wielding shields occasionally used pepper spray to keep the rioters back. For the most part, though, they relied on line formations to keep protesters at bay.
Emergency officials were constantly thwarted as they tried to restore calm in the affected parts of the city of more than 620,000 people. Firefighters trying to put out a blaze at a CVS store were hindered by someone who sliced holes in a hose connected to a fire hydrant, spraying water all over the street and nearby buildings. A massive fire also broke out in a building that was under construction and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said through a spokesman that officials are investigating whether it is connected to the riots. The Mary Harvin Transformation Center, a community-based organization that supports youth and families, was engulfed in flames Monday evening.
Monday’s riot was the latest flare-up over the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, whose fatal encounter with officers came amid the national debate over police use of force, especially when black suspects are involved. Gray was African-American. Police have declined to specify the races of the six officers involved in his arrest, all of whom have been suspended with pay while they are under investigation.
In a statement issued Monday, Attorney General Lynch said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days, including Vanita Gupta, the agency’s top civil rights lawyer. The FBI and Justice Department are investigating Gray’s death for potential criminal civil rights violations.
Police urged parents to locate their children and bring them home. Many of those on the streets appeared to be African-American youths, wearing backpacks and khaki pants that are a part of many public school uniforms.
The riot broke out just as high school let out, and at a key city bus depot for student commuters around Mondawmin Mall, a shopping area northwest of downtown Baltimore. It shifted about a mile away later to the heart of an older shopping district and near where Gray first encountered police. Both commercial areas are in African-American neighborhoods.
Later in the day, people began looting clothing and other items from stores at the mall, which became unprotected as police moved away from the area. About three dozen officers returned, trying to arrest looters but driving many away by firing pellet guns and rubber bullets.
Downtown Baltimore, the Inner Harbor tourist attractions and the city’s baseball and football stadiums are nearly 4 miles away. While the violence had not yet reached City Hall and the Camden Yards area, the Orioles postponed Monday’s home game against the Chicago White Sox for safety precautions.