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Baltimore calm now, but Freddie Gray protests continue

Martial law, curfew and spectatorless baseball aside, Baltimore officials have strived to restore a sense of normality. Schools have reopened in the city, where a quarter of the population live below the poverty line.

As businesses opened Wednesday, police reported only scattered overnight arrests after the latest wave of protests fueled by anger against the frequent deaths of black men at the hands of US police.

With 3,000 police and National Guard troops deployed to keep the peace and prevent a repeat of the

protests that erupted on Monday

, when police arrested 250 people,

a citywide curfew

ended at 5 a.m. (0900 UTC) with no reports of disturbances in the early morning hours. It will go back into effect at 10 p.m.

In an interview broadcast Wednesday, Barack Obama said protests showed that police departments needed to create trust. The US president called on police departments "to hold accountable people when they do something wrong" and said Attorney General Loretta Lynch would reach out to mayors about retraining police and providing body cameras.

Not everything has returned to normal. For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox in a game closed to the public for safety reasons.

'Too many instances'

Activists plan to continue pressing for answers after the

25-year-old black man Freddie Gray

died from a mysterious spinal-cord injury while in police custody. Police tackled Gray on April 12, when an officer claimed that he had attempted to run after making eye contact. A bystander video shows officers forcing Gray's limp body into a police van as he moans in pain and officers acknowledge that they ignored Gray's initial calls for medical help and failed to buckled him in for the ride.

Gray died April 19 of a fatal but unexplained spinal injury. Baltimore suspended six officers with pay, and the US Justice Department has launched its latest investigation into possible civil rights violations.

Since last summer, new light has been shed on the deaths of black men at the hands of police - often with video evidence that appears to show no wrongdoing on the part of the victims. Just a week before Gray sustained his fatal injury at the hands of police, a video showed a white officer in South Carolina

shoot an unarmed black man

eight times and then appear to plant evidence next to his motionless body.

President Obama acknowledged the deaths

Tuesday during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals - primarily African American, often poor - in ways that raise troubling questions," Obama said in Washington, 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Baltimore. "I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching …" the first black US president added. "It's been going on for decades."

mkg/lw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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