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Baltimore Mayor Condemns Violent Protesters At Press Conference


We begin this hour in Baltimore where police have been struggling to put down riots that broke out after the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray was an African-American man who died while in police custody a week ago. After looters set fire to buildings and clashed with police, Maryland's governor tonight declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. Baltimore police say 15 officers have been injured in violent clashes from rioters throwing bricks and rocks. As of this evening, two officers remain hospitalized. NPR's Jennifer Ludden joins us from Baltimore. And Jennifer, it's now nightfall in the city. Do police have a handle on the situation?

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Well, Audie, certainly a lot of the people that were out in the streets earlier have been dispersed. And there were - there was concern that they would come through downtown towards City Hall, as some of the other marches have done over the past week. You - we saw sheriff's officers shutting down streets here and everyone clearing out and hotels locking their doors. That never happened. So it was - seemed to be contained. But there are - police say they're still getting reports of looting in stores, and there is a CVS that was looted that was also set on fire - quite a large fire. In fact, protesters cut the water hose that firefighters were using to put it out. Tonight, Colonel Darryl De Sousa called on parents to please get their kids home. He called this violence unprecedented.


DARRYL DE SOUSA: Right now, we're seeing unprecedented type of violence throughout the city. We're not going to tolerate that. The police department is not going to stand for that.

LUDDEN: De Sousa also said that police will use video of the incidents - street video and that from the officers to identify rioters and to arrest them. He also says Baltimore police are getting help from other departments. And tonight we've had Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan saying he expects up to 5,000 extra police officers from the region to come and help.

CORNISH: You mentioned the governor and police officials, but how are other city leader reacting?

LUDDEN: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has ordered a curfew starting tomorrow - 10 P.M. until 5 A.M. She said people will be exempted only for a medical emergency or to go to work. She said it will be in effect for a week and extended if need be. She said the National Guard will be deployed tonight and that she also is deeply disturbed.


MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I'm a lifelong resident of Baltimore. 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.

LUDDEN: A city councilman compared what happened today to the 1968 riots that happened here. I should also say some residents were shaken a lot of businesses closed early, including the University of Maryland at Baltimore and an Orioles baseball game was cancelled. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jennifer Ludden
Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.