NEW: Baltimore police say they made 486 arrests at rallies and protests since April 23
NEW: 113 officers have been injured during the last week, police said
National Guard prepares exit as governor announces 200 businesses lost in riots
Things could be returning to normal in Baltimore: The city has lifted its curfew, the National Guard is preparing its exit and a mall that had been a flashpoint in the riots has been reopened.
The goal, said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake “has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary.”
The mayor spoke after a tour of Mondawmin Mall, which reopened Sunday after recovering from rioting that police said was spawned by social media rumors of a “purge” after Freddie Gray’s death.
Because of the improving conditions in the city, she said, the National Guard will be wrapping up its operations, but don’t expect the troops to leave immediately.
“It’s not like you flip a switch,” she said. “They have to unwind their operations, and they’re going to do that over this next week.”
Asked whether she thought it was premature to send the military home, she replied, “It will either be too long or too early. You’ll let me know afterward.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, speaking at a separate news conference Sunday, said it “will take a couple days, maybe about 72 hours” to complete the drawdown, at which point the state of emergency can be lifted.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, speaking at a separate news conference, said it “will take a couple days, maybe about 72 hours” to complete the drawdown, at which point the state of emergency can be lifted.
“We’ve already started to withdraw. It will take a little while. We brought 4,000 people in,” he said.
The city can now take a breath and assess the events that rocked the city since Gray’s death.
Since April 23, police made 486 arrests at protests, rallies and other gatherings related to Gray’s death, police spokesman Capt. J. Eric Kowalczyk said Sunday.
Two hundred Baltimore businesses, many of them minority-owned and many lacking insurance, were lost in the April 27 protests alone – the worst night of protests. It “will take a little while to get back to normal,” Hogan said, “but let’s get people back to normal, get people back in the city to visit devastated shops.”
The majority of stores inside Mondawmin reopened Sunday, Rawlings-Blake said, declaring it “a great day for this community.”
Protests, some arrests
The announcements came after hundreds of Baltimore residents rallied peacefully Saturday following the arrest a day earlier of six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.
Marchers converged on City Hall after walking from the Gilmore Homes housing project, where Gray was arrested last month.
The rally, organized by the Washington-based Black Lawyers for Justice, came after a week of demonstrations, some marred by arson and looting. A smaller number of demonstrators remained in the streets after the city 10 p.m. curfew went into effect.
Maryland National Guard Gen. Linda Singh said she was eager to send her troops home.
“I want to make sure we can close out tonight in a safe, peaceful … manner,” she said.
City prosecutor identifies six officers
Six police officers have been charged in the death of Gray last month, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Friday.
The 25-year-old died after suffering “a severe and critical neck injury” while being transported “handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained” inside a police van, she said. It is against police policy to transport a prisoner without proper restraints such as a seat belt.
The police union called for an independent prosecutor, saying Mosby has conflicts of interests. They also criticized her for not waiting until police were done with their inquiry.
“We are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment, given the fact that the investigation into this matter has not been concluded,” said Gene Ryan, president of the police union. “Our officers, like every other American, are entitled to due process.”
Police officers arrested Gray on April 12. He slipped into a coma after suffering a series of injuries and died a week later.
Mosby said the incident began when two police officers on bike patrol “made eye contact” with Gray, who then ran.
When officers caught up to him, he surrendered and was placed on the ground, arms handcuffed behind his back. He said he couldn’t breathe and asked for an inhaler, but he did not get it, according to Mosby.