Baltimore mayor lifts curfew, saying no longer needed

Reuters News
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Posted: May 03, 2015 9:01 AM

By Scott Malone and Ian Simpson

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - The mayor of Baltimore on Sunday lifted a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew she had imposed on the city last week after a night of looting and arson that followed the death of a young black man from injuries suffered while in the police custody.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she believed sufficient calm had returned to Baltimore to allow her to end a curfew put in place last Tuesday after violence erupted over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

"My goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary," the mayor said on her Twitter account. "I believe we have reached that point today."

The surprise announcement on Friday by the city's chief prosecutor that she was bringing criminal charges against the six police officers involved in Gray's arrest has helped to defuse outrage over Gray's death.

The looting and arson on Monday punctuated what had been a mostly peaceful series of protests in the Maryland city since Gray's death a week after his April 12 arrest.

The demonstrations in the mostly black city of 625,000 were reprise of a nationwide wave of protests over police brutality that erupted last year after killings of unarmed black men by white officers in Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Investigations into the deaths of unarmed black men last year in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York had concluded the police officers involved had acted within the law, and grand juries decided against indicting them, prompting an outcry.

On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered in Baltimore in a rally praising the decision by prosecutor Marilyn Mosby to charge one of the officers involved in Gray's arrest with murder and five others with lesser crimes.

Mosby, a 35-year-old black woman who took office in January, said the state medical examiner had ruled Gray's death a homicide. She said he was unlawfully arrested and the officers repeatedly ignored his pleas for medical help while he was handcuffed, shackled and lying face down in the back of a police van.

The mood of Saturday's rally was almost celebratory in sharp contrast to the outrage expressed earlier in the week, especially on Monday, when more than a dozen law enforcement officers were hurt and more than 200 people were arrested.

Still, Baltimore police arrested at least a dozen people on Saturday for violating the curfew, which has imposed hardships on city businesses and residents alike.

Maryland's Governor, Larry Hogan, called for a day of prayer and reconciliation on Sunday.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Rucker in Washington; Writing by Frances Kerry and Frank McGurty; Editing by Ralph Boulton)