MTPR

In Baltimore, The Curfew Ends And Residents Observe A Day Of Reflection

May 3, 2015
Originally published on May 3, 2015 5:44 pm
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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Baltimore has lived through an unbelievable week - protests that sometimes turned violent, such anger over the death of Freddie Gray. Gray's case gained national attention after he died of severe spinal injuries prosecutors say he suffered while in police custody. Today, though, the city appears calm, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake lifted the citywide curfew.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: We want to heal our city. We know we have challenges in Baltimore. We know that there's work to be done.

RATH: And Maryland's governor declared Sunday a day of prayer and peace. NPR's Sam Sanders is in Baltimore and has the story.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Early Sunday afternoon, Baltimore's mayor spoke right outside of Mondawmin Mall, which had been badly damaged in riots last week. Rawlings-Blake said that Baltimore wants to move on.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: What you saw in these last few days with the peaceful demonstrations and people coming together to celebrate Baltimore is that will that we will get better, that we will get through this. And we'll do it as one Baltimore.

SANDERS: Rawlings-Blake said Baltimore will work with the Justice Department on a collaborative review of the Gray case.

R.C. OWENS: Good morning. How are you doing today?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm fine. How are you?

OWENS: Good, good, great.

SANDERS: At Sunday services at New Shiloh Baptist Church, where Freddie Gray's funeral was held last Monday, Elder R.C. Owens had a simple prayer for Baltimore.

(SOUNDBITE OF SERMON)

OWENS: Now guide our city. Guide our city. Guide our city.

SANDERS: Outside of the church after service, Melissa Morton said she's ready for a return to some kind of normal in Baltimore. She says a large military presence throughout the city doesn't feel like home to her.

MELISSA MORTON: This is like living in prison, in hell. This is not a good way to live. The National Guard and all those people standing by - that's disheartening.

SANDERS: Mayor Rawlings-Blake says that National Guard troops will start leaving the city soon. Saturday night, several protesters were arrested and pepper sprayed after defying the city's 10 p.m. curfew. But overall, protests over the death of Freddie Gray have turned from angry to celebratory. Much of that change came after charges were filed against the six officers involved in Gray's death. One officer was charged with second- degree murder. Baltimore resident Jason Robinson thanks state attorney Marilyn Mosby for that. She brought the charges.

JASON ROBINSON: It has changed in Maryland. Mosby did it. You know, they said that it wouldn't come out on Friday. And she came out on Friday and said, I made my decision, so it felt like a victory. It is a step in the right direction.

SANDERS: During today's service at New Shiloh Baptist, Pastor Harold A. Carter said the problems Gray's case highlight are ongoing. Carter said Gray's running from police before his rest - he said that symbolizes struggles black people in America deal with. They are running, said Carter, from discrimination, from inequality, from racial profiling.

(SOUNDBITE OF SERMON)

HAROLD A. CARTER: And so for whatever unknown reason Freddie took off running, he was not the first to run.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: No. No, sir.

CARTER: Nor will he be the last to run. I contend, metaphorically, as a people, under the sound of my voice, primarily of African descent, that we have been running all of our lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SANDERS: Carter says he's praying for Baltimore, even the police involved in Gray's death. And continuing his metaphor, Carter said, as a black man, he won't stop running anytime soon. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Baltimore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.