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Police say Baltimore curfew working

Hundreds gather in Baltimore for a peaceful protest on Tuesday following a night of riots that prompted Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard. Protesters and the community are calling for justice in the the death of Freddie Gray that has since become emblematic of a larger issue of police brutality. (AAP Image/NewZulu/Terrelle Pettis)

Hundreds gather in Baltimore for a peaceful protest on Tuesday following a night of riots that prompted Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard. Protesters and the community are calling for justice in the the death of Freddie Gray that has since become emblematic of a larger issue of police brutality. (AAP Image/NewZulu/Terrelle Pettis)

Baltimore [AFP]

A nighttime curfew has restored a semblance of order to badly scarred Baltimore a day after riots dragged it into a national debate over how police treat young black men.

Police did fire smoke bombs and pepper pellets at protesters who defied the citywide clear-the-streets order starting at 10pm on Tuesday.

And protesters threw bottles and other projectiles at a line of riot officers protecting themselves with shields.

But the scene was a far cry from the spasm of rioting and looting on Monday in which roving gangs of youths torched buildings and cars and ransacked shops in poor areas of the northeastern American city of 620,000.

‘The curfew is in fact working. Citizens are safe. The city is stable,’ Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told a midnight news conference.

A total of 10 people were arrested, seven of them for curfew violation, he added. That compared to more than 250 on Monday.

After midnight, after tear gas clouds forced protesters to disperse, the streets were largely clear of protesters.

Several hundred initially refused to move on, according to TV estimates, and a fire was started near a library.

A line of heavily equipped riot officers confronted the crowd of mainly young, black men, who lobbed back whatever they could get their hands on.

Police responded with pepper pellets and fired smoke bombs.

Armoured vehicles moved in to help enforce the curfew, which was to be lifted at 5am on Wednesday and then re-imposed each night for a week.

National Guard troops were deployed to back up police in the gritty port city where the violence and looting erupted on Monday after the funeral of 25-year-old African-American man Freddie Gray, who died after suffering severe spinal injuries during an arrest.

Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama condemned Monday’s rioting but warned recent incidents raised ‘troubling questions’ about policing black communities in the United States.

Last year’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, triggered coast-to-coast protests.

‘Since Ferguson … we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals – primarily African American, often poor – in ways that raise troubling questions,’ the president said.

‘I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching,’ he added.

‘I think there’s some communities that have to do some soul-searching. I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching.’


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