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Baltimore moves on as curfew is lifted, National Guard leaves

The curfew is over.

Baltimore began to move beyond unrest Sunday when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake lifted a citywide curfew, the Maryland National Guard began withdrawing its forces and shoppers returned to Mondawmin Mall, which had been shuttered after looting.

The mayor and Gov. Larry Hogan said they agreed the curfew had outlived its purpose two days before it was set to expire. Restaurants, bars and the American Civil Liberties Union had called for an early end to the curfew, which some residents believe was unevenly enforced.

"It's time to get the community back to normal again," Hogan said after attending mass at St. Peter Claver Church in West Baltimore. "It's been a very hard week, but we've kept everybody safe. Since Monday night, we haven't had any serious problems."

The curfew had been in place since Tuesday, after violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore amid anger over the April 19 death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody. The curfew required all Baltimoreans to stay indoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Rawlings-Blake said she kept the curfew in place out of concern that Saturday protests led by out-of-town activists would turn violent. But the protests took on a mostly celebratory tone after Friday's announcement that six police officers would be criminally charged in Gray's death.

"A lot of the unrest has been settled," Rawlings-Blake said after touring the reopened Mondawmin Mall.

The officers, who were released on bail, have been charged with a range of felonies and misdemeanors. A police van driver was charged with second-degree depraved heart murder.

The police union has said none of the officers charged are responsible for Gray's death.

Gray suffered a spinal injury during a van ride in which his hands and feet were cuffed but he wasn't wearing a seat belt, prosecutors said. He died one week later.

The decision to lift the curfew brought relief to restaurant and bar owners and their staffs, who lost thousands of dollars in sales, wages and tips when they were forced to close early for five nights.

But they said it would take time to recover from the economic blow. Shelves remained empty and some stores have yet to reopen at Mondawmin Mall, which was closed and then looted during Monday's rioting.

"I'm trying not to think about it, but at the same time, it's right there," Zaryab Ryab said as he surveyed bare display cases at his mall kiosk, Sundial, which once held $40,000 worth of watches from luxury brands like Michael Kors and Invicta. "We're still doing what we have to do."

While many restaurant and bar owners hoped for bigger-than-normal crowds Sunday night, the economic damage has been done, said Patrick Russell, owner of Slainte and Kooper's Tavern in Fells Point.

"How many people can you fit in your establishment to make up for five nights?" Russell said. He estimated losing $40,000 in sales over the five nights the curfew was in place, "a staggering amount of money to lose in cash flow."

For some businesses, the focus wasn't on the losses.

At the Brewer's Art restaurant and bar in Mount Vernon, co-owner Tom Creegan said he's mostly concerned about "what's going on in the city."

"We're going to make it through," Creegan said. "There's a much bigger picture and we're just glad we're moving forward."

Hogan said the Maryland National Guard will gradually draw down its presence in Baltimore over the coming days. The governor had moved his Cabinet from Annapolis to a Baltimore satellite office to help coordinate a response to the unrest, which included thousands of soldiers and airmen, police officers from other jurisdictions, and volunteers.

"When I came into the city on Monday night, it was in flames, the city was burning," Hogan said from outside St. Peter Claver on Fremont Avenue, the border between the Sandtown-Winchester and Upton communities. "Stores were being looted, a lot of terrible things.

"But since then, I've seen incredible acts of kindness. I saw neighbors helping neighbors. I've seen a community that cares about each other."

Hogan estimated that about 200 businesses were damaged during the violence.

Economist Anirban Basu, CEO of the Sage Policy Group, estimated businesses lost tens of millions of dollars because of the curfew. And the loss of several Orioles games cost the economy as much as $10 million, he said. The team played one game to a stadium closed to the public, as officials tried to limit crowds downtown, and moved a weekend homestand to St. Petersburg, Fla.

But the biggest hit to the local economy will likely come in the long run, Basu said. Tourism and business recruitment efforts could be significantly hampered by images of the Baltimore riots being broadcast to international audiences on CNN and Fox News, he said.

"These audiences do not have as much information about Baltimore and therefore are much more likely to have been influenced by what they saw," Basu said.

Some residents criticized what they saw as inconsistent enforcement of the curfew. On Saturday night, a group of 50 mostly white protesters stood on a Hampden corner as the curfew went into effect, saying they believed they would be treated differently than black protesters in poorer parts of the city. After two warnings from police, they dispersed, and none were arrested.

Police arrested 46 people for violating the curfew Saturday night. Since April 26, police said they have made 486 arrests linked to the unrest.

Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, a city police spokesman, said commanders send officers to areas where they are most needed.

"Where we have the largest amounts of people, we will shift the largest amount of resources," Kowalczyk said. "We're going to target on the largest gathering of people first and then shift resources to address smaller and smaller groups. That's been the basis of how our curfew enforcement has gone."

He added: "We're going to continue to keep officers deployed in areas where there is the potential for concern."

Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said the fact that no major incidents occurred after Monday's riots showed the curfew worked. He called it "a very effective tool in helping to restore calm and stability to the city, and once we could ensure that was the case, we removed it."

Curfews for youth remain in place because they are permanent city policy.

At Mondawmin, businesses welcomed shoppers to clean, bright hallways Sunday.

"It doesn't look like anything really happened in here," said Tamica Constantino, who came to shop for clothes at a store called Olive Ole ahead of her birthday this week. "They cleaned up well."

But that store and many others remained closed. At the Lids hat store, a metal door was rolled down and a sign warned that the area was being recorded on video. At clothing and shoe store DTLR, one merchandise display wall was bare, though neat stacks of clothing covered display tables.

After touring the mall with a group of supporters, Rawlings-Blake said the mall was largely back to normal. When she toured the damage Tuesday morning, piles of broken glass and debris lay at every entrance.

"It is such a dramatic difference from where it was Monday," she said. "I'm so grateful because it shows the resiliency of our city."

The mall will operate on an abbreviated schedule from Monday through Saturday, closing at 6 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., Romaine Smallwood-Smoot, the mall's general manager, said in an email.

"We look forward to welcoming shoppers back to Mondawmin Mall and we are proud to remain a community partner," Smallwood-Smoot said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Lorraine Mirabella, Kevin Rector and Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

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