BALTIMORE (KRON) — Cars rolled through the streets, students returned to class and a symphony played on a sidewalk Wednesday, offering the city a slice of normalcy as it recovers from the rioting and looting earlier this week.
Still, anger and anxiety hung over Baltimore.
Hundreds of protesters, many of them students wearing backpacks, marched through downtown, calling for swift justice in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered critical injuries while in police custody.
Authorities carefully monitored the rally after teenagers started the violence Monday afternoon, throwing bricks and bottles at officers who had gathered near a major bus transfer point. The situation escalated from there, overwhelming police as protesters set fire to cars and buildings and raided stores.
Schools closed Tuesday because of the mayhem, but reopened Wednesday, after the city’s first night of a curfew went off without the widespread violence many had feared.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake talked to fourth- and eighth-graders at New Song Center in West Baltimore, not far from where Gray was arrested. She said she was impressed by the children’s perspective.
“They understand very clearly the difference between demonstrators that have a righteous purpose and those who are preying on this opportunity for their own benefit,” she said.
About 3,000 police and National Guardsmen descended on the city to help keep order, and life wasn’t likely to get completely back to normal anytime soon: The curfew was set to go back into effect at 10 p.m.
And in what was one of the weirdest spectacles in major-league history, Wednesday afternoon’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards was closed to the public for safety reasons. Press box seats were full, but the grandstands were empty.
Earlier in the day, protesters outside the office of Baltimore’s top prosecutor said they supported State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who took office in January and pledged during her campaign to address aggressive police practices.
Mosby’s office is expected on Friday to get investigative findings from police on Gray’s death. She will then face a decision on whether and how to pursue charges against the six police officers who arrested Gray.
The curfew got off to a not-so-promising start Thursday night when about 200 protesters ignored warnings from police and pleas from pastors and other community activists to disperse. Some threw water bottles or lay down on the ground.
A line of officers behind riot shields hurled tear gas canisters and fired pepper balls at the crowd, which dispersed in a matter of minutes.
Police said 35 people were arrested after the curfew went into effect.