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Baltimore Reels After Freddie Gray Protests Descend Into Chaos

As the community where Freddie Gray lived and died smoldered in the predawn haze, they sweep up the ashes and ponder how to rebuild.
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/ Source: NBC News

Police and National Guard troops deployed across Baltimore on Tuesday after riots and looting shook the city. As people swept up broken glass and ashes, the governor vowed “overwhelming” law enforcement to keep the peace during the tense night ahead.

“What happened last night is not going to happen again,” Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters.

The city kept its schools closed and prepared for a curfew that was to begin Tuesday night — no one on the streets after 10 p.m. except for medical emergencies and people going to work.

The Baltimore Orioles, whose Camden Yards ballpark is not far from the site of the worst violence on Monday night, canceled their game with the Chicago White Sox for the second straight night.

Almost 200 people were arrested, 144 cars set on fire and 15 buildings set ablaze on Monday night after police clashed with angry crowds, the mayor’s office said.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a joint news conference with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said "There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.

“That is not a protest. That is not a statement. It’s a handful of people taking advantage of the situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals," Obama said.

The president added that American could solve the problems that sparked the turmoil — including extreme poverty and a cycle of violence in the nation's inner cities, but that "would require everyone saying this is important, and that we just don’t pay attention when a CVS burns, or when a young man gets shot, or when a young man has his spine broken.”

The rioting followed the funeral for Freddie Gray, who died last week after suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody — the latest symbol for the national debate about law enforcement tactics and police treatment of black men.

The Maryland National Guard said that 2,000 troops would be deployed throughout the day, and that the force could build to 5,000. State Police were asking for 500 more officers from Maryland and perhaps 5,000 more from other states, The Associated Press reported.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who had referred to the rioters as “thugs” bent on destroying the city, sidestepped an opportunity to criticize the police response on Monday.

“It’s a very delicate balancing act when we have to make sure that we’re managing but not increasing and escalating the problem,” she told reporters. “There’s always going to be armchair quarterbacks that have never sat in my seat that see things differently.”

In the light of day, business owners took stock of what was lost. People showed up with brooms to sweep up outside a CVS pharmacy that was looted and burned.

Gray's family said it was "appalled" by the violence and urged calm.

"I think the violence is wrong," Gray's twin sister, Fredericka Gray, said late Monday. "I don't like it at all."

— William J. Gorta and Halimah Abdullah