Feds Met with Family of Freddie Gray
Justice Department officials say they have met with the family of Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal injury days after being taken into police custody, and with an injured police officer who remains hospitalized.
The department says the meetings happened Tuesday.
Justice officials also say representatives from a specialized office that mediates conflict between police departments and communities are also in Baltimore and met with residents who shared concerns about a lack of trust in law enforcement.
Separately, the department says the results of a federal review of the Baltimore Police Department’s use of force practices are expected to be announced in coming weeks. The department also has begun a civil rights investigation into Gray’s death.
Looting, fires and gunfire broke out overnight in Ferguson during protests in response to the death of a black man in police custody in Baltimore.
Several dozen people gathered Tuesday night on West Florissant Avenue, the site of several protests last summer and fall following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, by a white Ferguson police officer.
The protests were more subdued Tuesday evening in Baltimore, where a curfew was imposed. Rioting shook the city Monday following the funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of a spinal injury days after being taken into police custody.
In Ferguson, there were reports of two people being shot late Tuesday and early Wednesday, though it wasn’t immediately clear if the shootings were linked to the protests.
A gas station was looted. Trash cans and a portable toilet were set on fire. People threw rocks at police cars.
There were no reports of officers being injured.
A mother who was recorded hitting her 16-year-old son after she saw him throwing objects at Baltimore police says that she just wanted him to be safe and that his actions were unacceptable.
The video of Toya Graham, a Baltimore mother of six, was taken Monday as riots broke out in the city. The clip has become popular through social media. On Wednesday, she appeared on “CBS This Morning.”
Graham says her son told her Sunday night that a group would be meeting at a mall Monday afternoon. She headed there when she heard that schools were closing early.
At the mall, she saw police and helicopters. She stood on the same side of the street as police with shields as teens threw bricks at the officers.
“I was like in awe. It was like, ‘oh my God’ … to see my son come across the street with a rock in his hand. I think at that point I just lost it,” she said.
She says that if her son had wanted to stay home to go to Freddie Gray’s funeral, she would have allowed that. The 25-year-old died of a spinal injury days after being taken into police custody. The riots erupted hours after the service.
President Barack Obama says the Baltimore riots show that police departments need to build more trust in black communities.
In an interview broadcast Wednesday on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” Obama says his heart goes out to the Baltimore officers who were injured by rioters. He says there’s no excuse for that kind of violence and that Baltimore police showed “appropriate restraint.”
But he is calling on police departments “to hold accountable people when they do something wrong.” He says Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reaching out to mayors to let them know what resources are available for retraining police and providing body cameras to hold them accountable.
And Obama says problems will continue if the response is only to retrain police without dealing with underlying social issues such as poor education, drugs and limited job opportunities. He says tackling those problems will require a broader movement.
A citywide curfew in Baltimore ended at 5 a.m. and the morning rush is getting underway with traffic flowing on most streets downtown. There are still a few road and lane closures around police headquarters and around Pennsylvania and North avenues, where demonstrators have been congregating and a hotspot for rioting Monday night.
Local television showed a large police presence at that intersection and the CVS pharmacy in that neighborhood that burned in Monday’s riots being boarded up on Wednesday morning.
Also, schools are set to reopen Wednesday morning after they were closed in the wake of Monday’s riots. In a letter to the city school community on Tuesday, schools CEO Gregory Thornton thanked the students who avoided violence and law-breaking on Monday. But he also condemned students who participated in the riots, saying they will be held accountable.
For the people arrested in Baltimore under the state of emergency, there could be a longer wait than usual to see a District Court official.
Normally, state law requires that people arrested without warrants appear before a court official within 24 hours of their arrests.
But as part of the state of emergency declared Monday by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan following unrest in the city, the governor extended the period to no later than 47 hours. That’s according to a letter he sent Tuesday to Judge Barbara Baer Waxman, the administrative judge for the Baltimore District Court.
“This exercise of my authority is necessary to protect the public safety and to address the more than 200 arrests that were made by Baltimore Police Department and other law enforcement officials,” Hogan wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
At midnight Tuesday, Baltimore police arrested one man wearing a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt for violating the 10 p.m. curfew near the scene of Tuesday night’s demonstration.
Police placed him in plastic handcuffs and arrested him without incident.
The man, who declined to give his name, said while he was being arrested that he was out at that hour because he had car problems. He said no animosity toward the officers.
“They’re doing their job,” he said.
Officers placed him in a prisoner transport van and told him they were taking him about 2 miles to Central Booking.
11:40 p.m. Tuesday
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says a citywide curfew seems to be working.
Batts told a news conference shortly before midnight Tuesday that only 10 people had been arrested following the 10 p.m. curfew, including seven for violating the curfew. He said two people were arrested for looting and one for disorderly conduct.
Batts said he was pleased with the efforts of dozens of community organizers, clergy and neighborhood activists who urged residents to remain calm.
“The curfew is, in fact, working,” Batts said. “Citizens are safe. The city is stable. We hope to maintain it that way.”
Officials called for the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew following riots that started hours after Freddie Gray’s funeral Monday. He died after being injured in police custody.