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Baltimore police said Saturday that a 10 p.m. curfew would remain in place for a fifth night, even though the day’s rallies over the death of Freddie Gray remained largely peaceful.
"The violence of last Monday was unprecedented," Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.
"Tonight, we see some of the same people in Baltimore who were here last Monday," he said.
He said he realizes the city wants to "get back to normalcy," but the curfew would stand as a tool to prevent riots and looting from springing up again.
Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, with the National Guard, which was called into the city earlier in the week when a state of emergency was declared, said she was also looking forward returning to the daily grind.
"This has not been easy for us to do," Singh said. "But the most important thing is your safety, the safety of all the infrastructure that’s here because without that, we do not have a Baltimore," said the Maryland native.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was encouraged to see peaceful demonstrators on Saturday, who marched to City Hall in celebration after six officers were charged in Gray’s death.
"I'm so inspired and encouraged by what I see," said Rawlings-Blake, who greeted people at the march. "People from all over, not just our city and our state, but the country, coming to help us rebuild and to restore our communities from the devastating images that we saw earlier."
Demonstrators began their march with a moment of silence in memory of the 25-year-old black man, who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody April 12, before converging on City Hall.
There, various protesters got behind a microphone and gave passionate speeches while dance parties broke out in pockets of the crowd. “We know we matter,” said one young person from the podium. “Black lives,” he prompted, and the crowd answered, “matter.”
The Baltimore Police Department updated their Twitter feed with whereabouts of the demonstrators, but had not reported any arrests or incidents of violence on Saturday afternoon.
The diverse sea of marchers chanted, "No justice, no peace, no racist police" and “They got guns, we got voices.” Organizing group Black Lawyers for Justice estimated the crowds could swell to around 10,000 people.
“We have to stay in the street saying, ‘We will not stand by and … watch killer cops walk free,’” said demonstrator Carl Dix.
“We are not in a mood of forgetting,” he added.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who declared a state of emergency Wednesday because of rioting this week, called for calm during Saturday's mass demonstrations. "The right to demonstrate is a fundamental part of our society, but damaging property or putting innocent bystanders in danger will not be tolerated," he said in a statement.
Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice, first announced on Thursday the plan for a weekend protest over Gray's death. The next day, however, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby held a news conference calling Gray's arrest "illegal" and that his death had been ruled a homicide. Six officers involved with arresting, transporting or checking on his well-being were charged in his death, including for manslaughter, assault and misconduct. They are expected to be arraigned later this month.
Shabazz, meanwhile, said the rally would go on. "We cannot get complacent, they are already trying to intercept justice, they are trying to get rid of this prosecutor," he wrote on Facebook. "We cannot start singing and sitting down we are gonna have to fight tooth and nail all the way to the conviction."
The National Guard, which was called in amid the violent unrest and a nightly curfew, has been guarding major intersections and government buildings in the city. The Baltimore Police Department said 38 people were arrested before Friday's 10 p.m. curfew and 13 were arrested for violating it after demonstrators poured into the streets in jubilation after the charges were announced.
Freddie Gray's stepfather, Robert Shipley, also urged calm while speaking to reporters Friday. "If you are not coming in peace, please don't come at all," he said.
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— Elisha Fieldstadt