Police descend on Baltimore to enforce curfew after riots
Updated: 2015-04-29 10:41
'DELICATE BALANCING ACT'
Members of the community work to clean up a recently looted and burned CVS store in Baltimore, Maryland, United States April 28, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
"There's no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday," said US President Barack Obama, who said he spoke to the governor and the mayor. "It is counterproductive."
Obama also said at a news conference the problems in places such as Baltimore were not new and need to be addressed by everyone.
"We can't just leave this to the police," Obama said, adding that "we as a country have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It's been going on for decades."
Almost a quarter of people in Baltimore live below the poverty line and decayed, crime-ridden areas of the city inspired the gritty television police drama "The Wire."
Monday's ransacking of stores, pharmacies and a shopping mall and clashes with police in riot gear was reminiscent of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after authorities declined to indict a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager.
Police in Ferguson came under intense criticism last year for quickly adopting a militarized posture, using armored vehicles, showing heavy weapons and using tear gas.
Baltimore police Captain John Kowalczyk told reporters that the city had prepared for protests by teenagers on Monday. But as the violence increased, older people were involved.
"When we deployed our officers yesterday, we were deploying for a high school event," Kowalczyk said. "I don't think there's anyone in the country that would expect us to deploy with automatic weapons and armored vehicles to an event with 13- 14- and 15-year-olds."