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After protests, Baltimore curfew meets resistance

Baltimore's new weeklong, citywide curfew was met by a small, defiant group of people. Ten were arrested.

After peaceful protests resumed over the death of Freddie Gray Tuesday, Baltimore's new weeklong, citywide curfew was met by a small, defiant group of people facing off with helmeted police officers in West Baltimore.

Rocks and bottles flew at a line of officers who shot back pepper pellets through smoke pouring from canisters at the corner of Pennsylvania and W. North avenues. A police helicopter circled overhead, ordering the remaining people out of the street. State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and members of the community took turns on a loudspeaker encouraging people to leave.

Police said just before midnight that 10 people had been arrested citywide, including seven for breaking curfew and two for looting.

The new rule — which will be in effect for at least seven days, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. — was announced by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake after violent riots and looting broke out for hours Monday afternoon and evening. Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and requested police reinforcements from the U.S. National Guard to quell the violence.

The curfew applies to everyone in the city, though exceptions are in place for emergency personnel, students traveling for classes and people commuting to or from work for essential functions.

Individuals may be stopped by authorities and asked to provide documentation to avoid arrest, according to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration. Violating the curfew is a misdemeanor.

The mayor's office said that "non-essential business operations" should be suspended during the hours the curfew is in effect. Restaurants, entertainment venues and bars should be closed between those hours, and patrons should plan enough time to travel before the curfew takes effect.

Employees traveling to or from work during the curfew should have a valid photo ID and a document from their employer stating their need to work during curfew hours, along with the dates and employee hours, according to the administration.

At the end of the week, Rawlings-Blake will determine whether the curfew should be extended.

Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Baltimore Police reported a separate group of people throwing rocks and bricks at officers near the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and 9th Street in Brooklyn.

After the incident dissipated, dozens of police were stationed at the District Court building on Patapsco Avenue, including BearCat tactical vehicles. The officers slowly trickled out as 10 p.m. approached, and a few neighborhood residents watched from across the street.

At Pennsylvania and West North avenues, which was the center of Monday's riots and has become a protest hub, a large number of people gathered before nightfall. The mood was largely celebratory, featuring performances from dancers and roller skaters.

About 45 minutes before 10 p.m., citizens began trying to disperse the crowd. Some men argued that they shouldn't have to leave, leading to passionate debates.

"No grown-ass man is gonna tell me to go home," one protested. Another groused about tax breaks at the Harbor East.

A woman held a sign that read, "Go home. Fight another day."

Beyond a throng of media, two men changed into hooded sweatshirts and others could be seen clutching rocks.

An occasional water bottle was thrown. At about 10:15 p.m., police advanced on the line, leading to more objects being hurled in their direction, and police fired pepper balls at the crowd. Officers lobbed smoke canisters, some of which were thrown back. A small blaze broke out against the brick wall of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, but it burned out.

Other hooded men walked toward police on Pennsylvania Avenue, and police fired down the street with pepper balls. One man was hit multiple times, then dropped to a knee and fished around inside of a backpack. Officers fired again, and he fled.

The city already has a curfew that requires children younger than 14 to be indoors by 9 p.m. on school nights. Those older than 14 may stay out until 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends and over the summer.

Mayoral spokesman Kevin Harris said the citywide curfew — announced Monday — was set to take effect Tuesday night so police had time to ramp up enforcement efforts. Harris also said people needed reasonable notice before a curfew is enforced.

Riots on Monday followed a week of mostly peaceful protests over the death of the 25-year-old Gray in police custody. The protests boiled into violence Saturday, and it worsened Monday after Gray's funeral.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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