BALTIMORE – Thousands of police officers and National Guard troops strived to maintain an uneasy peace across Baltimore on Tuesday as reinforcements were deployed across the city following a night of violent unrest that led Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency.
Public schools across the city were closed as officers spread over the 80-square-mile area, with both police and protesters concerned about a repeat of Monday evening’s violence as a 10 p.m. citywide curfew loomed.
For more than a week, daily protests over the unexplained death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of a severed spine he suffered while in police custody, remained peaceful. But tensions boiled over Saturday evening when a group of rowdy demonstrators broke off from a larger demonstration to square off with police.
The undercurrent of hostility exploded Monday in a night filled with looting, destruction of property, and fires set to 144 vehicles and 15 buildings. More than 200 people were arrested, and 20 officers injured in the clashes. Police made an additional 12 arrests Tuesday morning, Baltimore police said.
The Baltimore Fire Department was responding to reports of a new fire Tuesday afternoon at a CVS pharmacy that was looted and set on fire a day earlier, according to NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez.
The Baltimore Orioles, whose Monday night game against the White Sox was canceled due to the unrest, announced that the team would face off against Chicago at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday in a game that would be closed to the public.
“It shocked a lot of people,” Gov. Hogan said of Monday’s violence at a news conference early Tuesday. “What started out as peaceful protests – and 95% of the people were peaceful and simply expressing their frustrations – shifted yesterday afternoon and evening to roving gangs of thugs whose only intent was to bring violence and destruction to the city.”
Gov. Hogan said the city will see an “overwhelming display of people on the streets protecting the citizens,” as officers make their way into the city. “What happened last night is not going to happen again,” Hogan said. “We’re going to ensure that all parts of the city are safe.”
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who established the curfew Monday evening after two days of allowing officers to step back and let protesters “destroy space,” defended her decisions Tuesday morning. “I understand that from the outside, you can’t see everything that I see. You don’t know all the different moving pieces,” she said, adding that “it’s a very delicate balancing act when we have to make sure that we’re managing, but not increasing or escalating the problem.”
President Barack Obama in an afternoon press conference at the White House said there is “no excuse” for the violent rioting that occurred in the streets of Baltimore. He added that the underlying issues that sparked the unrest is nothing new for some communities of color.
“There are some police departments that have to do some searching. There are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But our country needs to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades,” Obama said.
Newly instated Attorney General Loretta Lynch – on the first day of the job – issued a statement denouncing “the senseless acts of violence by some individuals in Baltimore that have resulted in harm to law enforcement officers, destruction of property and a shattering of the peace.” Lynch said that Justice Department officials would “meet with faith and community leaders, as well as city officials,” though timing is unknown at this point.
Late Monday, the Baltimore Police Department tweeted that “groups of violent criminals are continuing to throw rocks, bricks and other items at police officers.” A senior citizen’s center under construction in Baltimore was seen engulfed in flames, but it was not immediately clear if the roaring blaze was connected to the unrest in the city.
Dozens of neighbors – including children – took to the streets Tuesday morning with brooms, garbage bags, shovels and more to clean up the destruction and restore their community, according to NBC News Correspondent Rehema Ellis on the ground here.
Community leaders are “literally helping to clean up their own community,” Maryland State Delegate Keith Haynes described of the scene Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Jose Diaz-Balart.” “In order for us to move forward, we have to first get this city under control … we have to bring the community together,” Haynes said.
With the public school system closed, many kids were out in the city today, a decision the PTA Council of Baltimore City told msnbc it supported. The group’s president in a statement did acknowledge that a number of these students depend on school meals. “It is unfortunate,” the statement read, “but a number of community organizations and churches have opened their doors to provide meals for those who need them.”
Official and likely 2016 presidential candidates, including Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, issued statements on the arrest, some controversial.
Gray’s family took to Facebook via their attorneys to address the unraveling. “Freddie Gray’s family is watching the looting and rioting and is upset, sad, angry. They are begging people to stop this. #FreddieGray #BaltimoreRiots.”
President Obama spoke to Rawlings-Blake on Monday, according to a press release from the White House. ”The president highlighted the administration’s commitment to provide assistance as needed and will continue to receive updates on the situation from Attorney General Lynch and White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett,” the statement said. Gov. Hogan said he also spoke to the president Monday evening.
Additional reporting by msnbc’s Benjamin Landy, Rachel Kleinman and David Taintor.