The US city of Baltimore continues to smolder after protests over the death of a young black man in police custody. Officials instated a weeklong 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew effective Tuesday evening after overnight protests.
On Tuesday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said police had arrested nearly 200 people after 15 buildings and 144 vehicles were set ablaze overnight. With the state of Maryland declaring a state of emergency, the Baltimore Orioles baseball team canceled a game scheduled for Tuesday evening and schools remained closed for the day in the city of roughly 620,000 people about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the US capital, Washington, DC.
"It's idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you're going to make life better for anybody," Rawlings-Blake said Monday.
Protests broke out on Monday after several had gathered to mourn Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man fatally injured in police custody. A cellphone video shot April 12 shows Gray howling in pain as officers force his limp body into a van. Gray requested help and an inhaler during his roughly 40 minutes in detention, and police have acknowledged that he should have received medical attention sooner.
'Peace will prevail'
Gray died a week later, and his body lay in a casket Monday, surrounded by wreaths and next to a sign reading "Peace y'all." Crowds swayed to hymns and chanted "justice shall prevail, peace will prevail."
Baltimore has suspended six officers with pay while it looks into Gray's death, and the city has become the latest venue in which the US Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation after a string of highly publicized deaths of black men at police hands. A video shot in early April shows a white officer shooting an unarmed black man eight times in South Carolina and then apparently planting evidence near his body. Just days before that, a white reserve officer in the Dust Bowl state of Oklahoma claimed he had meant to user his taser on a man he ultimately killed with his handgun.
Gray's death has also brought to a boil the city's long-simmering tensions over police treatment of black people. A 2014 investigation by the Baltimore Sun newspaper found that since 2011 the city had paid out $5.7 million in lawsuits for improper police practices.
"When you see the destruction you've also got to realize there's pain," said US Representative Elijah Cummings, a Democrat who represents the region. "There's pain behind a lot of this."
Maryland Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi ordered 500 police into Baltimore and requested 5,000 from neighboring states. National Guard Adjutant General Linda Singh said she would deploy up to 5,000 troops in "massive force" to protect people and property. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has temporarily moved his office from the state capital, Annapolis, to Baltimore.
mkg/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)