BALTIMORE (CBSDC/AP) — Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is clarifying her comments after calling violent protesters “thugs” during a press conference Monday evening.
Rawlings-Blake tweeted Wednesday that she was speaking out of “frustration and anger” after seeing the confrontation between protesters and police following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died from a spinal-cord injury after being in police custody.
“I wanted to clarify my comments on ‘thugs.’ When you speak out of frustration and anger, one can say things in a way that you don’t mean,” she posted on Twitter. “That night we saw misguided young people who need to be held accountable, but who also need support. And my comments then didn’t convey that.”[tweet https://twitter.com/MayorSRB/status/593443825038819328 width=’330′] [tweet https://twitter.com/MayorSRB/status/593443966655266817 width=’330′]
During a press conference Monday, Rawlings-Blake called them “thugs” who wanted to destroy Baltimore.
“I’m a life-long resident of Baltimore and too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who in a very senseless way are trying to tear down what so many have fought for. Tearing down businesses. Tearing down and destroying property, things that we know will impact our community for years. We are deploying every resource possible to gain control of the situation and to ensure peace moving forward,” she said Monday.
Schools reopened across the city and tensions seemed to ease Wednesday after Baltimore made it through the first night of its curfew without the widespread violence many had feared.
With 3,000 police and National Guardsmen trying to keep the peace and prevent a repeat of the looting and arson that erupted on Monday, the citywide, 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew ended with no reports of disturbances in the early morning hours.
Baltimore’s school system said all schools would be open and after-school sports and other activities would also take place. Monday’s riots began when high schools let out for the day and students clashed with police near a major bus transfer point.
But life was unlikely to get completely back to normal anytime soon: The curfew was set to go back into effect at 10 p.m. And baseball officials — in what promised to be one of the weirdest spectacles in major-league history — announced that Wednesday’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards would be closed to the public for safety reasons.
The curfew got off to a not-so-promising start Tuesday 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.
Just before midnight Tuesday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts declared the curfew a success.
“We do not have a lot of active movement throughout the city as a whole. … Tonight I think the biggest thing is the citizens are safe, the city is stable,” he said. “We hope to maintain it that way.”
Batts said 10 people were arrested soon after the curfew went into effect: two for looting, one for disorderly conduct, and seven for violating the curfew.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” President Barack Obama said the riots show that police departments need to build more trust in black communities.
He called on police departments “to hold accountable people when they do something wrong” and said Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reaching out to mayors about retraining police and providing body cameras.
The president also said underlying problems such as poor education, drugs and limited job opportunities must be addressed.
Looting, fires and gunfire broke out overnight in Ferguson, Missouri, during protests triggered by Gray’s death in Baltimore. Ferguson was rocked by violence last year over the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.
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