After riots, a tense city, peaceful demonstrations, waiting for what's next

It is not clear yet whether Tuesday is the day after, or Day Two. 

Police spokesman Captain Eric Kowalczyk says 235 people were arrested last night, all but 34 of them adults. There were 144 vehicle fires, and 19 fires in structures.

In a morning press conference Governor Larry Hogan, who moved his office temporarily to Baltimore from Annapolis, said 1,000 National Guardsmen were being deployed with more available. He spoke of the Monday rioting as an isolated incident, in mostly past-tense terms. He promised that the increased “boots on the ground” would make Baltimore safe.

Meanwhile, public schools, college classes, a baseball game, and dozens of other events scheduled for today were cancelled. Some restaurants and others provided free meals to public school students. CNN and other national media outlets hit the streets looking for fire. 

At noon on the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenue a large crowd is gathered in front of riot police. Many milling about have shovels and bags, they’ve been cleaning up after last nights fires and looting. The crowd is mixed in race and age. News trucks dot the road to the east. Three helicopters hover in the air. There are DPW people in yellow vests directing traffic away. 

A man with a shovel says the police showed up an hour and a half ago. “I can’t even get to my car,” the man says. Just then, a loud BANG erupts from the middle of the road, 30 feet away. A wave of panicked people run over us, a woman screaming “run!”

The line breaks. Then it is over. The crowd goes back to what it was doing. 

State Sen. Catherine Pugh is here with voter registration cards. People are chanting.

Protester handing out voter registration cards, pleading for jobs, mental health professionals instead of police. pic.twitter.com/MyVNGvNeLE

— Brandon Weigel (@brandon_weigel) April 28, 2015

Meanwhile, a few blocks south and west, in Sandtown, Dr. Matthew Loftus says the riots last night hit the western part of the neighborhood, not the south, where he lives with his family. On this day local organizers wanted to take youth to clean up the mess, but then thought better of it as word of a “daytime curfew” spread. “They didn’t want to get anyone in trouble,” Loftus says.

This daytime curfew seems to be a fantasy. But it ruled events in the neighborhood all the same. Lotfus says a meeting at 1601 N. Calhoun Street (the New Song Worship Center) with the kids was followed by the Jubilee Arts (1900 block of Pennsylvania) taking kids in to work on painting murals until five p.m.

By 3 p.m. the crowd at PA and North is still there. So are the police. Now a “love line” of black men are posted between the crowd and the cops. A bottle was thrown, pepper spray deployed, one person taken into police custody. The civilians in the middle are trying to keep it civil.

It is getting tense on North Ave. Two water bottles lobbed at police. Protesters started to fall back before people yelled, "Hold the line!"

— Brandon Weigel (@brandon_weigel) April 28, 2015

On the scanner, police are talking about clashing with BGF and Bloods gang members—170 of them. It is unclear where.

This is not supposed to be happening. This morning, City Councilman Bernard C. “Jack” Young held a press conference with clergy and gang leaders, saying that in fact there was no gang truce in order to attack police. 

“It’s clear that people are acting on odd sources of information,” Loftus says. “As soon as that gang threat got out [yesterday morning] every community leader who knew any gang members started calling them and asking what was going on. And then it looks like it got squelched from the top.”

The Sandtown Winchester Community Association meeting for tonight has been cancelled. “The reason they gave was because they want to concentrate on the cleanup,” Loftus says.

At 3:30 a building is burning and media are going into the burning structure to photograph it, according to the scanner. The fire department wants police to keep the media safe from themselves. It’s a roof fire on the CVS that was looted and burned last night. It is out in a few minutes.

Just after 4 the 12 O’Clock boys arrive on motorcycles at North and Pennsylvania.

It’s three hours until dark. Six before curfew. 


Click here for more from Edward Ericson Jr. or email Edward at eericson@citypaper.com

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