Baltimore lifts curfew six days after riots over man's death

2015-05-03 20:39
Protesters march on the west side of Manhattan in New York to protest the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who was critically injured in police custody. (Craig Ruttle, AP)

Protesters march on the west side of Manhattan in New York to protest the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who was critically injured in police custody. (Craig Ruttle, AP)

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Baltimore - The mayor of Baltimore on Sunday lifted a curfew that was imposed across the East Coast city following rioting over the death of an African American man in police custody.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had faced growing calls for the curfew to be scrapped, particularly from store and restaurant owners who said the 22:00 to 05:00 nightly restriction was impacting business.

"My goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary," Rawlings-Blake wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning. "I believe we have reached that point today."

The curfew was imposed April 28 and applied to everyone except emergency crews. Authorities initially had said the curfew would remain in place until May 4.

Baltimore took the unusual step of a citywide curfew after rioters torched cars, pelted police with stones and ransacked stores on April 27. The riots followed protests over the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who suffered a serious spinal injury while in the back of a police van on April 12.

He died a week later.

On Friday, prosecutors said Gray should never even have been arrested and had committed no crime. Six Baltimore police officers, three white and three black, were charged with multiple counts including second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the death.

Baltimore's police union has condemned what it calls "an egregious rush to judgement", as it defended the officers and expressed confidence they would be cleared.

Growing roster of deaths 

Gray's case is the latest in a growing roster of high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, and has rekindled national debate and simmering tensions about whether police are too hasty to use deadly violence when dealing with African American or minority suspects.

Perhaps the most famous case is that of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri. The death and subsequent lack of legal action against the police officer who shot him prompted widespread riots in the St Louis suburb.

Similarly, the death of father-of-six Eric Garner, 43, sparked broad protests. Garner died after being held in a police choke hold while being arrested for illegally selling individual cigarettes in New York.

Many residents in Baltimore reacted jubilantly to news of the six officers being charged, and demonstrations since the April 27 riots have generally been peaceful.

Read more on:    michael brown  |  us
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