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National Guard Deployed To Baltimore; Riots Break Out After Gray's Funeral


We're going now to NPR's Jennifer Ludden, who is tracking the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray. In Baltimore, people threw cinderblocks at police and set stores on fire after the funeral of the black man who died in police custody. Now this morning, people are assessing what's happened in their city and what is next, and, Jennifer, good morning.


MONTAGNE: What is happening, in fact, where you are there in Baltimore?

LUDDEN: I'm in the Northwest neighborhood, Renee, at the side of a CVS pharmacy that was looted last night and then set fire to. It's just been completely gutted inside. But residents are here this morning sweeping up the shards of glass on the sidewalk, a community effort to try and clean it up. One woman says she's just heartbroken. This is already a poor area. She says it's not like there's a lot of other pharmacies people can go to nearby.

I also stopped by a looted Rite Aid in another neighborhood over from here. A manager was assessing the damage. He said they had seven of their stores broken into last night, one while employees were still there. They escaped through the back. They're all shut down today, and they're hoping to open some. But he's seen a string of people come by needing medicine and having to be turned away. Police have also been putting out alerts of streets to avoid, places where we heard of cars being set fire to overnight and - and so forth.

MONTAGNE: Well, officials there, obviously, have been working to quell the bad feelings and then the violence. So what exactly are they doing?

LUDDEN: You know, the commissioner, Anthony Batts -police commissioner - said basically we did plan for this yesterday, but we were outnumbered and outflanked. So now he is seeing a massive deployment of resources. He has called in state troopers. I'm looking at a line of them across the street from us right now, outfitted head to toe in black riot gear. Hundreds of them are here. He's also called in law enforcement personnel from across the state of Maryland, and he's asking for help from the District of Columbia and Philadelphia.

Also, up to 5,000 National Guard are now deploying across Baltimore. They have Humvees with heavy weaponry. And tonight, a 10 o'clock curfew will kick in. All of this, officials hope, will allow them to stay ahead of the rioters and forestall any more violence tonight. I should also say that schools are closed today. And part of the violence we saw yesterday happened when high schools let out and gang members kind of converged.

MONTAGNE: Well, Freddie Gray's own family called for calm and were - expressed, you know, horror at the looting and the rioting. What is the sentiment that you've been hearing in the neighborhood?

LUDDEN: There is a lot of anger at the looters and a lot of sadness. People say - several people have said we are not Ferguson. This is not us. There was so much hope over the past week that Baltimore could escape the kind of violence that we saw last year in Ferguson, Mo., that kind of kicked off this national series of debates over police brutality.

One woman here told us that she kind of blames police officers yesterday here. They stood back. She worries if - that they allowed this to happen. But others also say look, it was a long time coming. There's such a history of police mistreatment of African-Americans here. A lot of people say they really want the six police officers who are being investigated in the Freddie Gray case to be indicted. We're still waiting to hear what will happen. A report is due Friday. But people tell us if there is not an indictment coming, they really fear that there will be more violence.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Jennifer Ludden speaking to us from Baltimore. Thanks very much.

LUDDEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.