Troops In The Streets Of Baltimore

BALTIMORE — Residents of neighborhoods hit by rioting and arson turned out Tuesday morning to begin clearing their streets of debris as hundreds of rifle-toting National Guard members began deploying here, lining one of the city’s main thoroughfares and taking up posts around a police station in western Baltimore that had been the scene of earlier protests.

At Pennsylvania and West North Avenues, where a CVS drugstore was looted and burned, residents with donated brooms were out in force. State police troopers in riot gear were lined up in a human barrier across the intersections, and a crowd of peaceful residents gathered, singing and chanting.

One of those with a broom was Clarence Cobb, 48, who lives in the neighborhood and came on his bike. “It don’t make no sense,” Mr. Cobb said of the damage by rioters. “It’s comes to a point where you got to take pride in your own neighborhood.”

After surveying riot-scarred parts of Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan vowed Tuesday that “we’re not going to have another repeat of what happened last night,” promising a much heavier presence from the police and the National Guard.

A turbulent day in Baltimore ended with rioting by rock-throwing youths and a call to end the violence by religious leaders and the mother of Freddie Gray.

“Criminal activity will not be tolerated,” Mr. Hogan said at a noon news conference. “We’re going to be sure to bring in whatever resources are necessary.”

In addition to the city’s own 3,000 officers, “we’ve got a couple of thousand” Guard troops and officers from other agencies, including the State Police, the governor said, and “the Guard is calling up another thousand who will be here by tonight.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, facing questions about the speed and strategy behind Monday night’s police response, said the “armchair quarterbacking and second-guessing” were understandable.

But she defended the response, saying that it took time to coordinate action. “We weren’t sitting around. We were engaged and working and managing the crisis,” she said.

Mr. Hogan declined to respond to critics who said Baltimore’s police response was not tough enough, or speculation that Ms. Rawlings-Blake was consciously trying to avoid a repeat of the more heavy-handed reaction to protests last year in Ferguson, Mo.

A senior center that burned overnight in Baltimore was smoldering at dawn. Credit Mark Makela/Getty Images

“I didn’t have discussions with her about Ferguson or why she was holding back,” he said. But, he said, city police officers “quite frankly were overwhelmed.”

He said he declared a state of emergency immediately after the mayor requested assistance. “We didn’t think it was appropriate to come in and take over the city without that request,” Mr. Hogan said.

In his first comments about the situation in Baltimore, President Obama denounced the rioters who took to the streets shortly after the funeral of Freddie Gray, an unarmed 25-year-old black man who died April 19 from injuries sustained while in police custody, but added that the violence pointed to the need for a national discussion about how the police interact with the public.

“We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, and often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions,” Mr. Obama said. “This has been a slow-rolling crisis that has been going on a long time”

Mr. Gray was chased and restrained by police officers on bicycles at Gilmor Homes on the morning of April 12; a cellphone video of his arrest showed him being dragged into a police van, seemingly limp and screaming in pain. The police have acknowledged that he should have received medical treatment immediately at the scene of the arrest and have also said that he rode in the van unbuckled.

After his arrival at the police station, medics rushed him to the hospital, where he slipped into a coma and died a week later. His family has said that 80 percent of his spinal cord was severed, and that his larynx had been crushed.

The guards deployed Tuesday were expected to be joined over the course of the day by thousands of police officers from outside the city as Baltimore struggled to recover from rioting, arson and looting that left 19 police officers injured. City officials said one officer remained at a trauma center.

In all, the mayor office said, 15 buildings and 144 cars were set on fire overnight, and more than 200 arrests were made. The police said two people were shot, each in the leg, in separate episodes. One victim, a woman, was shot on Fulton Avenue near where some of the worst rioting and looting had occurred hours earlier. The other victim, a man, was shot about two miles west of the Mondawmin Mall, where the rioting began.

While the rioters largely dispersed during the night, fire engines raced across this city early Tuesday as the Fire Department strained to extinguish blazes. Some firefighters were reported to have had cinder blocks heaved at them as they responded to emergencies. As a result, police officers were deployed overnight alongside weary and harried firefighters to ensure their work was not disrupted by people with “no regard for life,” the Police Department said.

At the mall early Tuesday, a few police cars sat in the parking lot, but the rioters seemed long gone. Both Mr. Hogan and Ms. Rawlings-Blake walked through the mall, which received, the mayor said, “significant damage.” The police said that a flier circulated on social media had called for a period of violence on Monday afternoon to begin at the mall and to move downtown toward City Hall.

Timeline: Mapping the Clashes Between Baltimore Police and Protesters

Fire engine sirens could still be heard early Tuesday and acrid smoke wafted from some of the areas hardest hit by arsonists who have left the Baltimore Fire Department stretched to its limits. One early-morning fire struck a large pawnshop in a commercial strip on the west side of the city, and several fire companies were called to put out the blaze.

Members of the National Guard began to arrive on the streets just after dawn, wearing tan and earth-green military fatigues and driving sandy-color Humvees. They took up posts around the city’s Western District police station, while more than 100 other guards lined the street in front of Baltimore’s inner harbor.

State and city officials said they hoped that measures scheduled to be put into effect on Tuesday — including the Guard deployment and a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.— would reduce the chances of a repeat of Monday’s unrest, where the police acknowledged that, at least early on, they had been outflanked and outnumbered.

By the early hours of Tuesday, it was clear that in addition to the many rioters fueled by fury over the death of Mr. Gray, there were many other residents who, while also upset by Mr. Gray’s death, were troubled by Monday’s violence.

These included members of Mr. Gray’s own family, who said he would not have approved of the rioting. It also included people like Katrina Carter, who grew up near the Mondawmin Mall, a place, she said, “where they had pageants and everything you could do with kids.”

Standing in the mall’s parking lot late Monday night, Ms. Carter said she understood the anger of the teenagers who had thrown rocks and bricks at the police. “I’m 38, but had I been 12, I probably would have been out there,” she said. But she said the teenagers needed to learn a better way to protest.

“They need to understand how to push pens, not people,” she said.

Original Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/us/baltimore-riots.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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