Baltimore lifts curfew ahead of letting extra officers leave

BALTIMORE (AP) — Six days after riots that were set off by Freddie Gray's fatal encounter with Baltimore police, the mayor lifted a citywide curfew Sunday and faith leaders called for activism to continue until justice is achieved.

Calm appeared to be prevailing two days after the city's top prosecutor announced criminal charges against six officers involved in Gray's arrest. Sunday afternoon, a jubilant crowd of several hundred people prayed and sang civil rights anthems at a City Hall rally.

Speaker after speaker exhorted the peaceful crowd not to rest just because the officers have been charged.

The Rev. Jamal Bryant, a fiery leader of the protests that followed Gray's April 12 arrest and his death a week later, drew deafening cheers when he said the accused officers deserve jail time.

"We've got to see this all the way through, until all six officers trade in their blue uniform for an orange uniform," Bryant said. "Let them know: Orange is the new black."

The Rev. Lisa Weah, pastor of the New Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gray's neighborhood, said "our prayer is that Baltimore will be the model for the rest of the nation."

Police said Sunday that 486 people had been arrested since April 23 and that 113 officers had been injured in the disturbances. The extent of their injuries was unclear. Earlier in the week, police had said 13 officers were hurt badly enough that they couldn't work.

The curfew — ordering residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. — had been in place since Tuesday. Originally officials had planned to maintain it through this morning, then reassess. But Friday's announcement of charges eased tensions.

"My No. 1 priority in instituting a curfew," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, "was to ensure the public peace, safety, health and welfare of Baltimore citizens. It was not an easy decision, but one I felt was necessary to help our city restore calm."

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died after suffering a broken neck while inside a police van, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has said. Of the officers involved in his arrest and transport, one is charged with second-degree murder, three others with involuntary manslaughter and two with second-degree assault.

Mosby said Gray's neck was broken because he was placed head-first in the police van, handcuffed and later in leg shackles, where he was left to slam against the walls of the small metal compartment. Police said the officers who arrested Gray ignored his cries for help because they thought he was faking his injuries. He was repeatedly denied medical attention.

Rioting and looting erupted after Gray's funeral last Monday, which prompted the curfew. About 3,000 National Guard soldiers were deployed to the city along with 1,000 extra police, some of them from out of state. Gov. Larry Hogan said the Guard and the extra officers would be leaving over the next few days.

"We think it's time to get the community back to normal again," Hogan said. "It's been a very hard week, but we've kept everybody safe."

The Maryland chapter of the ACLU sent a letter to Rawlings-Blake on Saturday alleging that the curfew was "being enforced arbitrarily and selectively" to break up peaceful protests and prevent media outlets from providing accurate coverage of police activity."

"The curfew is having a dramatic effect on the ability of Baltimore residents to simply go about their daily lives free from fear or arbitrary arrest," the letter read, calling the measure "the source of new problems rather than a solution."

Meanwhile, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said he would ask President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to send a bipartisan delegation "to look at what is going on in Baltimore."

"It is so symbolic of what is going on all over this country," Cummings said. "We have to address the problems of the urban areas because so many of our young people are being left behind."

During the rioting a week ago, more than 200 people were arrested, more than half of whom were released without charges. Rawlings-Blake said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that authorities are combing through videotapes to identify looters and charge them.

POLICE, GUNFIRE ELSEWHERE

NEW YORK — Demetrius Blackwell, 35, who served prison time for attempted murder, was arraigned Sunday on charges that he shot a New York City policeman in the head over the weekend. Officer Brian Moore, 25, is comatose and "fighting for his life" in the hospital, the district attorney said. Moore and his partner, in plainclothes and an unmarked car, confronted Blackwell on a Queens street Saturday after seeing him tugging at his waistband. The suspect turned and fired at least two shots, prosecutors say. Blackwell was arrested that evening.— AP

OREM, Utah— Police are hailing a man with a concealed-weapons permit who shot and killed a would-be carjacker outside a grocery here Saturday, saying the passerby did the right thing by coming to the aid of the screaming woman who'd been pulled from her SUV. Police didn't immediately identify shooter or suspect but said the unarmed would-be carjacker refused a request to get out of the vehicle and lunged for the gun. Police Capt. Ned Jackson cited Utah law that allows citizens to use guns for self-defense and to prevent a forcible felony. The Utah County Attorney's Office will decide whether charges are warranted.— AP

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