Curfew continues despite objections, calm

Anthony Batts announces that the curfew in Baltimore will continue even as the police commissioner thanked the community for coming together and remaining calm for the past two nights.

As protests over the death of Freddie Gray continued without major incident and Baltimore police announced an early conclusion to their investigation, civil rights activists and restaurants angled to get the curfew lifted.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that with order largely restored after Monday's rioting, the 10 p.m. citywide curfew should be lifted. Some bars and restaurants agreed.


"We think it is clear that these conditions have now been met such that the curfew is no longer serving its intended purpose, and we urge you to lift it," Deborah A. Jeon, ACLU-Maryland's legal director wrote to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said Thursday evening that the curfew would remain at least through the weekend. Even as springtime temperatures are drawing rowhouse residents out to sit on their steps in the evening, he said they will still be asked to go inside.


City and state leaders remain vigilant to the possibility that the calm may not last, and the White House reached out to celebrities such as former Ravens player Ray Lewis in an effort to enlist their help calming tensions in Baltimore.

Many residents here and across the country remain outraged over the death of Gray, 25. He died one week after his spine was severed and voicebox crushed while in police custody on April 12.

Gov. Larry Hogan said it would be unwise to lift the curfew "because we believe that there is still a real potential for more violence and more danger over the weekend."

"We don't want to alarm anybody, but we want to be fully prepared for the worst possibilities," he said. "We have other really extreme groups that are violent, that want to come in here just to cause mayhem."


Demonstrators took to the streets Thursday in Philadelphia and Cincinnati in a show of solidarity with Baltimore protesters and to decry police brutality. In Philadelphia, some protesters clashed with police.

As part of attempts to keep the peace in Baltimore, a number of celebrities and sports figures visited the city.

More than 50 current and former Ravens toured West Baltimore to deliver food and supplies and visit schools — including Frederick Douglass High, where some students were among those believed to have started the disturbances Monday that led to a series of fires and looting incidents.

Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony, the NBA star who grew up in Baltimore and played basketball at Towson Catholic High School, and Kevin Liles, the city native who became Def Jam Recordings president, joined protesters Thursday.

Hundreds walked from Weat North and Pennsylvania avenues, the focal point of much of the unrest, to City Hall, and back. They rallied in the rain, demanding answers. "Stop the lies!" they shouted. "How did Freddie die?" Others chanted: "I love Baltimore! We want peace!"

Police officers walked with the marchers. Two of them stopped to hug protesters and another helped a 2-year-old adjust his "End police terror!!!" sign as he sat on his grandfather's shoulders.

The Rev. Al Sharpton met with local religious and community leaders at New Shiloh Baptist Church, where the New York-based civil rights leader and TV host rebuked those who have criticized Rawlings-Blake for her handling of the crisis.

"Don't blame the mayor for what the last 50 years of mayors and governors didn't do," Sharpton said.

The Rev. Walter S. Thomas, pastor of the New Psalmist Baptist Church, hosted a prayer service full of singing and dancing at the Northwest Baltimore church Thursday night. When the music quieted, he reflected on the week's violence in a speech to his congregants, including Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.

"It has become clearer and clearer that this is an uneasy peace and a tenuous truce that at any moment all hell can break out," he said.

On Friday, two demonstrations have been called: At 3 p.m. the Bmore United Coalition will march from the Baltimore state's attorney's office to City Hall, and at 7:30 p.m. the 300 Men March, a group that has been taking to the streets for a couple of years to demonstrate against violence, plans to hold a rally at Park Heights and Cold Spring Lane.

Malik Z. Shabazz, the fiery Washington lawyer who organized a rally last Saturday that ended with fans temporarily trapped inside Camden Yards and scattered vandalism of cars and stores, is planning another demonstration this Saturday.

Shabazz told The Baltimore Sun that he expects thousands to attend and promised "complete peace, order and dignity."

Maintaining order remained a high priority for city officials, with the mayor's spokesman saying that despite criticism, officials should continue to reach out to gang members to ask for their help.

He also said that Rawlings-Blake would examine information that gang members claim to possess that discredits what police said was a "credible threat" that the Crips, Bloods and Black Guerrilla Family were unifying to target officers.

It is unclear how soon those who have been following the Freddie Gray case will get answers. While police turned over their findings to State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, the details have not been revealed.

With the result of the police investigation in her hands, Mosby must decide whether the officers involved in Gray's arrest and transport will be criminally charged.

Mosby issued a statement Thursday, saying that her office has been simultaneously investigating Gray's death, but gave no indication when that might be completed.

Meanwhile, officials sought the public's help in tracking down those who started several fires during Monday night's rioting.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of several intentionally set fires: the Mary Harkins Senior Center on North Chester Street, the CVS Pharmacies on Pennsylvania Avenue and West Franklin Street and the Rite Aid Pharmacy on North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Anyone with information, including video, is urged to call the ATF Hotline, 1-888-ATF-FIRE.

State and local fire officials also circulated a picture and description of someone believed to have cut a fire hose being used Monday to fight the CVS fire at North and Pennsylvania avenues.

Sun reporters Mike Dresser, Justin Fenton, Erin Cox, John Fritze, Pamela Wood, Colin Campbell and Doug Donovan contributed to this article.


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