At a press conference called to laud the peaceful demonstrations from protesters and “restraint” shown by police, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he hasn’t seen a need to institute a curfew in Baltimore.
Cities that have seen aggressive tactics from police and looting and property destruction from protesters have instituted curfews in an attempt to quell the unrest in response to the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, died after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
At the moment, Baltimore does not need to enact such a restriction, Young said.
“Our police officers have shown great restraint,” Young said. “They showed a lot of professionalism to allow the protesters to protest peacefully. And when it’s time for the protesters to leave, they have done it in a very professional manner in asking them to disperse.”
He also noted that curfews can sometimes do more harm than good.
The mayor and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison both praised the actions of demonstrators, thousands of whom took part in a youth-led march through downtown Baltimore on Monday afternoon and continued to protest outside City Hall into Tuesday morning.
Another large demonstration took place on Saturday. It started with a car caravan and then turned into a march through Old Goucher, West Baltimore, Mount Vernon and Harbor East. Protesters demonstrated outside City Hall into the evening, and were eventually met with police in riot gear firing pepper balls.
But the demonstration ended without any major incident.
Young said the city once again led the country “in how to conduct peaceful protest.”
“We saw tremendous energy over the weekend and even more with the youth-led protest,” he said. “I love seeing that energy and passion from so many of our young people who are leading our city today.”
Harrison called the protests “peaceful” and “impassioned” and said there were few instances of violence or property destruction.
“Last night was truly a sterling example of why I am so proud to be a part of this historic Baltimore comeback,” he said.
Police arrested six adults, including a man who was carrying a long gun.
But given the scale of the demonstration, the small number of arrests “speaks volumes about the restraint displayed by both sides,” Harrison said.
He highlighted the moment when organizers, including activist Kwame Rose, pulled out a man they believed threw firecracker at officers and pulled him away to be arrested.
“Baltimore stood up and refused to let decisive and subversive agendas and actions hurt their city and cloud the message the message of peace and the message of change,” Harrison said.
No officers were injured by the firecracker.
Gov. Larry Hogan also added praise of his own during a Tuesday morning appearance on WBAL News Radio.
“So we had thousands of people out expressing their very legitimate and real frustrations and anger, but peacefully working together in cooperation,” he said on “The C4 Show.” “It was something you did not see around the country, and there was so much cooperation.”
In a statement, the youth behind Monday’s march, who have thus far chosen to remain anonymous, said they called for peaceful protest to “avoid unnecessary tragedy.”
The statement was shared by Baltimore Bloc, a local activist group that helped coordinate the march.
The organizers said they do not condemn the rioting taking place in Minneapolis and other cities in response to Floyd’s death, and stressed that they are calling for the abolition of police, not just reform.
“We understand that the police establishment as a whole is too corrupt for reform, therefore we are calling for a complete restructuring of the system,” they said.
They also clarified that their actions ended at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.
“The group who was dancing with cops, commending the police for kneeling, and preaching respectability politics after 6:30 was a completely different group made up of mostly adults,” they said.
The young people pledged to continue their fight “until it is clear we no longer have to.”
Their statement ended with: “Oh, and f— Larry Hogan.”