Last Updated on April 29, 2015 by Paulette Brown-Hinds

By Lisa Snowden-McCray
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

Baltimore — Monday night, as looters took over Mondawmin Mall, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake was at the Office of Emergency Management for a news conference to address the destruction that overtook parts of the city earlier that day.

Joined by Chief of Patrol for the Baltimore Police Department Col. Darryl De Sousa, City Council President Jack Young and Baltimore City councilman Brandon Scott – Rawlings Blake said there was a difference between people who peacefully protested and “the thugs who only want to incite violence.”

The mayor announced a city-wide curfew that would last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. She said the curfew was to last a week and be extended as necessary.

“If you are on the streets, it will be medical emergency or you are going to work,” she said. The announcement came after several hours’ worth of clashes between young people and police. In pictures posted to social media accounts, officers armed with riot gear could be seen facing off against a large group of young people at Mondawmin Mall. The officers reported being hit by bricks, glass bottles and other debris. People on the scene reported being hit with rubber bullets and sprayed by pepper spray.

Among property damage from the day’s events was a CVS store at North and Pennsylvania, which caught fire. There were also reports of destruction of police cars and small fires in the streets.

Rawlings Blake said that she has been in touch with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who had activated the National Guard.

She also addressed concerns that she was not visible during much of the looting, saying that she was at work managing the situation behind the scenes.

She spoke out against what she called a blatant mischaracterization of her words about destruction and violence that happened after a day of peaceful protests on Saturday.

“I was asked a question about property damage. We balance a very fine line between giving peaceful protestors space to protest. People can hijack that and use that place for bad. I didn’t say we were accepting of that.”

De Sousa said that 15 police officers had been injured by flying debris during the unrest. He said most had been treated for minor injuries and released, while two remained hospitalized.

He said that 75-100 school-aged children caused the violence. He said, as of the conference, 27 arrests had been made. He also said that police would be monitoring video to determine if any other arrests would be made.

“Could we have done things differently? We have to asses that,” he said.

Councilman Jack Young also condemned the clashes.

“This is unacceptable. This is not what Freddie Gray’s family wanted,” he said.

“These are thugs who are seizing upon an opportunity to show their anger and distrust. We have to let the Department of Justice and the state attorney do their job. Our job is to get it right,” he said. “It’s your job as the media to report that.”

“These are not the people who live in Sandtown-Winchester,” he said. These are opportunists and we are not going to tolerate it. Justice will prevail.”