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Baltimore rioter does not regret actions

Posted at 2:13 PM, Apr 29, 2015

BALTIMORE -- In Baltimore, the numbers alone show the stark contrast between Monday's lawlessness and Tuesday's restraint. On Monday night, police made 235 arrests. After a citywide curfew went into effect at 10 p.m. Tuesday, only 10 people were arrested. On Monday, 20 officers were injured, including six seriously. On Tuesday night, one officer was hurt. And on Monday night, dozens of cars and buildings went up in flames as sirens blared throughout the city. On Tuesday night, nothing was on fire. After Monday's violent outburst, the city held its breath in the minutes leading up to the curfew, wondering whether mayhem would erupt once again.

It didn't.

While some protesters defied the curfew and faced off with police, the confrontation was essentially a staring contest -- each side waiting to see what the other side would do.

The peace was exactly what the family of Freddie Gray had asked for. It was Gray's death in police custody that sparked outrage and protests in Baltimore.

Even a notorious intersection near where Gray was arrested was peaceful Tuesday night.

Twenty-four hours earlier, there was a burned-out car at the intersection, and a tavern and a liquor store there had been looted.

By Tuesday night, aside from officers in riot gear standing next to armored vehicles, there wasn't a soul in sight.

With the renewed peace, Baltimore city schools will reopen Wednesday. Cleanup will continue. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will host a free concert, because "we could all use a little music in our lives right about now."

After sharp criticism over what went wrong Monday night, many are marveling at everything that went right Tuesday.

Obama: No excuse for riots

In an interview that aired Wednesday morning on "The Steve Harvey Morning Show," President Obama said, "The kind of violence, looting, destruction that we saw from a handful of individuals in Baltimore, there's no excuse for that."

He said his "heart goes out" to injured officers, and he praised police who he said "showed appropriate restraint."

The President also talked about the state of urban communities. "If you send police officers into those situations where the drug trade is the primary economy and you say to them basically your job is to contain that and arrest kids and put them in jail, when those police officers know (it's not going to fix things), then it's not surprising you end up with a situation of enormous tension between those communities and those police officers," he said.

Protesters policed one another

The relative calm that took over Baltimore can be credited in part to peaceful protesters who formed human barricades between hot-tempered demonstrators and police, day and night.

"We show that we can police ourselves," said a man who stood for hours in what protesters called a "unity line."

"We're about positivity here in Baltimore. It starts with us. This long line of people came out here because what we seen on TV yesterday, we didn't like it."

In the minutes before the curfew, one community leader grabbed a megaphone and clamored for demonstrators to leave.

"Go home tonight! Please!" she bellowed on the megaphone. "You know, it's not about people selling out."

Police restraint

Many residents also credited police for not overreacting after the curfew went into effect.

"The police did a fantastic job tonight," one person commented on Twitter. "Technically they could of arrested everyone at 10:01."

Instead, authorities made just 10 arrests: seven for violating curfew, two for looting and one for disorderly conduct, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.

Before the curfew, Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said officers had a "wide range of discretion' on how to enforce it.

This time, police had help -- lots of it.

Some 2,000 National Guardsmen and more than 1,000 police officers from across Maryland and neighboring states were assigned to the streets of Baltimore on Tuesday night, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.

"This combined force will not tolerate violence or looting, which has led to the destruction of property and put innocent Marylanders at risk," the governor said.

The cleanup

While there was no major damage Tuesday night, the recovery from Monday's destruction is far from over.

Many saw their neighborhoods torn apart, their homes and vehicles damaged, their livelihoods in shambles.

So residents like Cindy Oxendine took to the streets to sweep up rocks, glass and more, despite her aching back.

"It started off peaceful, and it ends up like this," Oxendine told CNN affiliate WBAL on Tuesday. "I've seen stuff like this on the news in other cities, but I never thought I would see it in front of my doorstep. It's crazy."

Others who also had nothing to do with the riots also tried to clean up the mess. Sulaiman Abdul-Aziz, 15, said he saw some of the mayhem.

"I felt disappointed," the teen said Tuesday, "because a lot of that could have been avoided if people would have started thinking before they would have done all that stuff."

The governor's office has started a website for those wanting to help Baltimore recover from this week's riots.

"We have received an outpouring of support from Marylanders and people all around the country who want to help get our beloved Baltimore back on its feet in the wake of the violence and destruction," Hogan said in a statement.

The website,, allows visitors to volunteer for cleanup efforts, donate to charities helping affected residents and report new incidents to police.

Fresh protests across the country

Baltimore wasn't alone in protests Tuesday night. Hundreds of demonstrators flooded streets in Ferguson, Missouri, in solidarity.

But the outcome in Ferguson was more violent. At least two people were shot in separate incidents.

City spokesman Jeff Small said officers aren't sure whether the shootings were linked to the protests.

"Police are having a difficult time investigating because of the rocks being thrown at them," Small said.

Ferguson and Baltimore are among a spate of cities where protests have erupted over the deaths of black men who died after encounters with police.

Last August, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson.

The outrage in Baltimore stemmed from the April 19 death of Gray, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody one week earlier. Many questions remain over how Gray suffered that fatal injury.

Baltimore police have been investigating Gray's death and are expected to have a report for the state's attorney's office by Friday. From there, prosecutors will decide whether charges should be filed.

Anger over Gray's death may have spurred Monday's violence, but Baltimore City Council Member Brandon Scott said it was also fueled by "a long, long, longstanding issue with young African-Americans."

"We're talking about years and decades of mistrust, of misfortune, of despair that it's just coming out in anger," Scott said. "No, it is not right for them to burn down their own city. But that is what's coming out of these young people."

Moving forward

Baltimore will keep its curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the next week. But there are signs the city is moving forward from the turmoil.

Baltimore public schools will reopen Wednesday, with the school district's CEO praising the "thousands and thousands of students who made good decisions" and did not participate in the riots Monday.

But Gregory E. Thornton said those who took part in violence Monday will be held accountable. "We are working to identify those students, who will experience consequences in full accordance with the law and City Schools' code of conduct," he said.

The Baltimore Orioles, whose Tuesday night game was postponed, will get to play the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, though the game will be closed to the public. A Major League Baseball source said the league is not aware of any prior closed-door games in its history.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Tuesday that her city is recovering.

"I think we saw a lot more of what Baltimore is about," she said. "We saw people coming together to reclaim our city, to clean our city and to help heal our city. I think this can be our defining moment."

CNN's Brian Todd reported from Baltimore; Holly Yan reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Evan Perez, Greg Botelho, Dana Ford, Kelly Marshall Smoot and Diane Ruggiero contributed to this report.