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Baltimore cleans up after Saturday protests, vandalism

Some Baltimore businesses remained closed Sunday after vandalism from Saturday's protests.

Muna Karki watched from a darkened second-floor window above the family-owned liquor store on Howard Street on Saturday night as demonstrators charged past, kicking at the storefront security gate.

"We closed, and then we watched from upstairs, but the crowds went right by. Thank God," Karki said Sunday, recounting Saturday's demonstrations to protest the death of Freddie Gray.

Howard Discount Liquors — owned by Kaji Karki, Muna's husband — escaped damage, save for a bent security gate.

Other businesses, including several 7-Eleven stores and a McDonald's just down the street, weren't so lucky.

Along Howard Street the damage sustained by storefronts appeared random — like the path of a tornado. Shards of glass glinted in Sunday sun as business owners assessed the harm done in the protest that resulted in more than 30 arrests.

Ten plate-glass windows of the 7-Eleven at Howard and Baltimore Streets were cracked. Duct tape was placed over the spider-web-shaped fissures. The store was looted, said Margaret Chabris, a 7-Eleven corporate spokeswoman.

Chabris said the convenience chain has 12 stores in the Baltimore area; all were instructed to close early Saturday to keep employees safe.

Four of the stores were damaged, she said, but Chabris said only the one at Howard and Baltimore remained closed Sunday afternoon. She said there was no estimate yet on the amount of damage to the four stores.

"There has really been an outpouring from community members that felt bad for our franchisees," Chabris said. "Two students ... from Morgan State University came [to the Howard Street store] with a mop, bucket, spray cleaners. They were on a mission to help," Chabris said.

Also on Howard Street, a sign was taped to a McDonald's restaurant door. "McDonald's is temporarily closed. Sorry. Mgmt," it said. The door and windows were boarded and the floor was littered with glass.

A 7-Eleven on Light Street had its glass door smashed. Above the door was a softball-sized hole in the storefront.

In the lobby of the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace hotel, Tim and Jenny Rossback, visiting from Philadelphia, described the unusual feeling of approaching Camden Yards for Saturday night's Orioles-Red Sox game and seeing rows of police officers.

"The anxiety-provoking part was when the police were retreating," Tim Rossback said. "You could feel the tension in the air."

The Rossbacks left the game early when it began to rain and saw damaged police cars being towed away. They had come to town for the game and said they would not be dissuaded from returning.

"This is not the only place this is happening," Jenny Rossback said.

Red Sox fans Al Blomberg and Ben Sutphin, both of Salem, Va., also attended Saturday night's game, during which fans were told at one point to remain in the stadium for their safety.

"I've been locked out of stadiums but never locked in," Blomberg said, adding that his walk back to the hotel "was the fastest mile walk I've ever made."

Outside the Western District Police Station, a handful of officers, in uniforms but not riot gear, stood leaning against the metal barricade around the station on Sunday morning. Several cars slowed, rounding the detour from North Mount Street onto Riggs Avenue, where garbage and rocks leftover from the night remained in the street.

Outside St. Luke United Methodist Church on North Gilmor, 59-year-old Wayne Snipes was toting a plastic trash can, sweeping up the rocks and other debris with a well-worn broom.

"I got to get it cleaned up for them," he said of church members arriving for the 11 a.m. service. Snipes said he's lived in the neighborhood all his life but tried to stay away from the protests Saturday.

"I'm not trying to get involved in this," he said. "I don't know why they got to destroy all this property. They still got to live here."

He said members of the church were concerned about the brick building, but it was left untouched.

"The neighborhood is already destroyed enough," Snipes said, looking at a vacant house across the street with missing windows. "They need to do something about these houses."

Snipes said he doesn't believe the police response Saturday night was wrong. "I don't think police were trying to make it worse. They were just trying to calm things down," he said.

But he believes the protests will continue, and he expects he'll be out cleaning up the street again.

"I'll be glad when it's over. I know it is going to be a while," he said. "I just hope they don't mess with the church. We got to go to church."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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