BALTIMORE — Residents here shaken by violent protests over the death of a man in police custody awoke Sunday to sweep up shattered glass and board up broken windows, while authorities upped the count of those arrested to nearly three dozen.http://wapo.st/1J1sGNU
The impact of the Saturday demonstrations was felt in both the seascape of boarded, abandoned homes in West Baltimore and in the gleaming waterfront along the Inner Harbor, where protesters had vowed to shut down the city with the slogan “no business as usual.”
Authorities said Sunday that 35 people had been arrested — 31 adults and four juveniles — on charges ranging from failure to disperse to rioting, assaulting police, burglary, theft and destruction of property. Police said two journalists were “inadvertently detained” and were freed without charges.
A spokesman for the Maryland prison system said one of the protesters arrested was from Philadelphia, another from the District and a third from a suburb north of Baltimore, but most were from Baltimore.
City leaders and the NAACP blamed the violence on “outside agitators,” and they said the arrests of so many from Baltimore did not reflect instigators who escaped apprehension. One of the last speakers at a City Hall rally Saturday told the crowd he understood they wanted to go to Camden Yards, and assured them they would soon “be released” and be on their own.
Both affected areas of the city returned to quiet Sunday, and community leaders said protests were suspended in deference to wake on Sunday afternoon and funeral on Monday for the man whose death sparked the protests. Freddie Gray, 25, died April 19, a week after he was arrested on a West Baltimore corner, pinned to the ground and dragged to the back of a police wagon. Police said he died of severe injuries to his spine and are trying to determine how the injuries occurred.
Six officers have been suspended, and police plan to turn over their cases to prosecutors on May 1. But demonstrators demanding murder indictments have turned Baltimore into the latest in a long list of cities grappling with deaths of young black men at the hands of police.
Rage boiled over late Saturday, and on Sunday the city tried to recover from hours of unrest that led to damaged police cars, the trashing of three crowded outdoor bar patios near Orioles Park at Camden Yards and fights that followed six hours of peaceful protest.
Business owners covered broken windows as fans filled the downtown ballpark Sunday afternoon to watch the Orioles play the Boston Red Sox. The night before, frightened spectators had to navigate angry demonstrators and police in riot gear before the game, and were held after the last out of the game until police “were absolutely sure it was safe for them to depart.”
People living next to the police station in West Baltimore — where Gray was pulled unconscious from the transport wagon April 12 – also spent the morning cleaning up from overnight clashes, in which police said protesters threw rocks and bricks at officers. People there too urged calm, but their emphasis was on justice and reform.
City work crews cleaned the corner of Riggs Avenue and Mount Street, in front of the barricaded police station, and a resident hung a sign on a light pole: “Please protest peacefully for your community.”
The streets were empty, but the pews of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church a block away from the station were full. Inside, the Rev. Alfreda L. Wiggins likened Gray’s death to martyrs of the civil rights movement.
“Freddie Gray died under mysterious and vicious circumstances,” she thundered to the congregation, “so that the attention of the world could focus on the injustice that African Americans are subjected to, over and over again.”
Parishioners then took to the streets “to pray outside, to pray for our community.” Wiggins noted that “Freddie was a black boy. His mother and father were black. His sisters and brother were black. We are black. He could be our son, our grandson. . . . We need to reach out, and cry.”
At Camden Yards, the epicenter of the downtown disturbances Saturday, there was little evidence Sunday that anything was amiss. It was Little League Day, and parents poured into the stadium with children in baseball uniforms in tow.
Marvin Hott, 42, came with his son Nathan, 12, a player for the Bel Air Reds, from north of Baltimore. Having monitored accounts of Saturday, Holt said, “I was a little bit nervous. I thought, if it was like it was last night, I would skip the game.”
But Hott said the situation appeared calm. “People are angry, and they want to be heard,” he said. “If it’s peaceful, then I understand.”
Carl Mummenthey, 44, brought his children Ainsley, 8, and Andrew, 11, from upstate New York to cheer on the Red Sox. They had been at Saturday’s game, too, and, taking note of the protests, had arrived early to avoid the disturbances.
But they could see lines of police pushing against protesters from inside the stadium’s patio and picnic area, next to the fence along Pratt Street. Ainsley said she was most scared of the police in riot gear. Her father said they all watched the news and he explained what was happening.
“We saw the usher rushing people inside,” Mummenthey said. “We saw police rushing people on a side street. We felt safe, and it looked to me like the police were restrained and handled it right.”
Paul Rossi, who works at a food stand selling peanuts and sausages on Camden Street, said he was injured when protesters overturned two grills and rained water bottles on patrons of outdoor bar patios. They then threw metal gates, overturned tables and broke windows, sending customers fleeing inside already jammed bars.
The scene was one of chaos, with bags and purses stolen, fistfights between protesters and baseball fans, and people scattering in panic before the crowd moved on to attack police cars on another street. One man threw a trash can through the back window of a squad car; a teen used a orange street cone to shatter the windshield of another.
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, said the violence at the end of what had been hours of peaceful protest trampled the message of the day. “The last two hours was about breaking things up, and nothing about Freddie Gray,” she said.
Hill-Aston said that during the violence, she saw Gray’s cousin sitting on a curb, crying and saying, “We don’t want this.”
At another location, an older woman carrying an umbrella tried to stop a youth from throwing a burning trash can at police. When she failed, she stomped the flames out herself.
Gray’s brother pleaded with a protester to put down a sign that read, “F— the police,” saying, “It’s not what we want.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) called the violence unacceptable as she addressed reporters with lawmakers and religious leaders Sunday evening. “We cannot and will not let a minority of incendiary individuals exploit our community,” she said at a news conference with lawmakers and religious leaders at Bethel AME Church. She said she would not let outsiders “put their own agenda ahead of our community.”
She said outsiders were pushing protesters to “shut this city down,” “inciting” the crowd, and then left. The mayor praised residents who urged calm “and put their lives before the blue line” of police.
“We are seeking answers,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We can seek answers as we seek justice, and as we seek peace.”
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) called the violence a distraction. “We are about to go to a funeral, where a family has lost a son,” he said. “I don’t want to lose sight of that.”
He added, “I didn’t come to ask people to respect the family” and keep protests peaceful, “I’m begging them.”
Cummings said he had faith in city leadership. “I have heard the mayor say it, and you know she means it. I have heard the police commissioner say it, and I know he means it. There will be change.”
Said the Rev. Frank Reid, pastor of Bethel AME, “Business as usual is not an option here.”