At least two people were arrested tonight as dozens of people violated the 10 o’clock curfew still being enforced in Baltimore, after a day of large, peaceful demonstrations where many called for the order to be lifted.
Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice and one of the organizers of a march to City Hall today that drew hundreds, called the continued curfew “oppressive.”
“Nobody out here is going to go out here and start any violence because they’re waiting on the trial. They have gotten some justice,” Shabazz said. “This curfew is oppressive. This curfew needs to be lifted tonight.”
More than 1,000 marchers arrived a little before 6 p.m. today at the corner of North and Pennsylvania avenues, the scene of Monday’s looting and rioting after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after being seriously injured while in police custody last month.
A few dozen protesters climbed onto the roof of a nearby subway station. A police helicopter flying overhead ordered protesters down, and they complied after a group of officers walked over.
There were no clashes with police today, unlike Friday night, when police enforced the curfew and arrested nearly 40 people.
The defiance of the curfew, which was put in place Tuesday, came after prosecutors announced charges against six police officers in Gray’s death, which was ruled a homicide. The six officers connected to the case faced a range of charges including several counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced.
The most serious charge is second-degree depraved heart murder, which only Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., the driver of the police van, faces.
During demonstrations today, many people called for the curfew to be lifted, but Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said more time was needed to make sure that calm has been restored in the city.
“We all want to get back to normal and have the city running in the right direction,” Batts said. “We recognize the concerns over the curfew. For tonight, for everyone’s safety, we’re going to keep the curfew in place.”
State Police Colonel William Palozzi said that the decision to keep the curfew in place was made out of safety concerns.
“We just ask for patience as we move forward and continue to move in a safer direction for a safer city,” he said.
People in the crowd at the large, peaceful protest in Baltimore today said the demonstration was about bigger change, beyond the issue of the six police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case. They talked about employment opportunities and about the problems that kids are finding with alternatives to crime out in the street.