Baltimore mayor lifts curfew 6 days after riots
Updated: 2015-05-04 11:25
BALTIMORE - Baltimore's mayor lifted a citywide curfew Sunday, six days after riots sparked by Freddie Gray's death, and faith leaders called for continued activism until justice is achieved.
A jubilant crowd of several hundred prayed and sang civil-rights anthems at a City Hall rally. Sunday's peaceful gathering came two days after the city's top prosecutor announced criminal charges against six officers involved in Gray's arrest. His death came amid a national debate about the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
Speaker after speaker exhorted the 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 the death of the 25-year-old black man a week later, drew deafening cheers when he said the 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 the message of equal justice for all must not be lost.
"Our prayer is that Baltimore will be the model for the rest of the nation,'' she said.
Police said Sunday that 486 people had been arrested since April 23, and that 113 officers had been injured at riots and protests. The extent of the officers' injuries was unclear. Earlier in the week, police had said that out of nearly 100 injured officers, 13 were hurt to the extent that they couldn't work, and 15 were on desk duty.
The order for residents to stay home between 10 pm and 5 am had been in place since Tuesday; officials had originally planned to maintain it through Monday morning. Protests since last Monday's riots have been peaceful, and Friday's announcement of charges eased tensions.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the curfew's end in a statement.
"My number one priority in instituting a curfew was to ensure the public peace, safety, health and welfare of Baltimore citizens,'' the Democratic mayor said. "It was not an easy decision, but one I felt was necessary to help our city restore calm.''