Calm descends on Baltimore as mayor lifts curfew

Curfew lifted, National Guard troops withdrawn after protests over death of black man in police custody subside.

    A peace rally was held at Baltimore's city hall, as the protests over Gray's death subsided [Reuters]
    A peace rally was held at Baltimore's city hall, as the protests over Gray's death subsided [Reuters]

    The United States city of Baltimore is attempting to return to normalcy, lifting a citywide curfew and withdrawing the National Guard following violence over the death in police custody of Freddie Gray, a young black man.

    Six days after the death of Gray, 25, sparked riots, Baltimore's mayor lifted a citywide curfew on Sunday morning, signalling an end to measures taken to ensure public safety amid an outcry over police brutality.

    Protests since Monday's riots have been peaceful, and Friday's announcement of charges against six policemen involved in Gray's arrest before his death have eased tensions.

    Al Jazeera's John Hendren, reporting from Baltimore, said the curfew had been lifted, the National Guard was preparing to leave and the mall where the rioting started had been reopened.

    "Things really changed dramatically after the six officers were charged. That eased the tensions of the crowds," Hendren said.

    "Now things have returned somewhat to normal, you've got people moving freely in the streets."

    Larry Hogan, Maryland's governor on Sunday had called for a statewide "day of prayer and peace" and attended a service for Gray at St Peter Claver Church with Archbishop William Lori.

    Several hundred residents also attended a peace rally at Baltimore's city hall.

    Economic fallout

    Baltimore police said they had made 486 arrests and 113 officers were injured during the protests. 

    A police spokesman said with the city's curfew now over, officers would continue to deploy to "areas of concern" and monitor protest activity.

    However, Baltimore was expected to struggle to return to normal due to the economic impact of the riots on the city.

    Al Jazeera's Hendren said it was estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars of business had been lost in Baltimore during the protests, with shops shuttered, weddings cancelled, taxis losing money because of the curfews, and lost hotel bookings.

    "It's going to take a little while for us to get totally back to normal but I think lifting the curfew's a good idea," Governor Hogan said.

    "It's been a really rough week but let's get back to normal in the city and get people back to work and back to school and get people coming back into the city to visit the shops that were really devastated this week and the small 'mom and pop' stores and the restaurants.

    "They need your help so we want to encourage everybody to come back to this city. It's safe and we've got calm and peace in the city."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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