Despite calls to end a 10 p.m. curfew, Baltimore police kept the restrictions in place and peacefully cleared the streets, though there were some arrests.
Demonstrators maintained that after days of relative peace, the curfew was no longer needed. But some officials said that there were still security concerns.
“We all want to get back to normal,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said at a Saturday evening news conference. “We want to get the city moving back in the right direction.”
Led by clergy, civic leaders walked the streets calling for peace.
“Nobody feels comfortable about the curfew, but it is a questions of safety,” Rep. Elijah Cummings said as he tried to convince people to go home.
The curfew has hit small businesses such as bars and clubs especially hard.
Andrew Alley, co-owner of Scores Gentlemen's Club in downtown Baltimore, said his business was sold-out with 400 people placing reservations for Saturday night's Mayweather-Pacquiao fight but because of the curfew he had to cancel.
“We had to call each and every one of them and let them know we weren't going to be open,” he said. “It hurts because you can make $50,000 or more on a night like this with the fight of the century going on. You can't get this one back.”
Earlier Saturday, hundreds of people came out for a peaceful demonstration celebrating the life of Freddie Gray, who died from an injury received while in police custody, and the criminal charges brought against the six police officers involved in the case.
On Friday, Baltimore State’s Atty. Marilyn J. Mosby announced that her office had found probable cause to criminally charge the six officers involved the arrest and transport of Gray. Each surrendered on charges including second-degree murder and manslaughter, with bail set between $250,000 and $350,000. All of the officers posted bond.
Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, and officers Caesar Goodson, Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and William Porter have a preliminary hearings scheduled on May 27 in Baltimore District Court.
Marching to chants of “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” the demonstrators gathered at the City Hall lawn in a rally that was supposed to kick off a weekend of protests but took on a celebratory feel.
Community leaders took turns speaking to the crowd — many holding signs with slogans, including “Stop War on Black America.” The talk was of poverty, racism, and Gray's death. Gray died on April 19, a week after he was arrested by Baltimore police, setting off riots and looting.
“People are encouraged by the charges,” said Fritz Bauerschmidt, 52, professor at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. “Baltimore wanted to show there's a lot more to the city than what's being shown on loop on cable news.”
Antoine Ellis, 51, and wife Lisa, 46, were standing under the shade of trees lining the City Hall lawn, and felt that the mood of Baltimore had largely changed since criminal charges were announced.
“The city was ready to boil over,” Ellis said. “The tension has been quelled quite a bit. But let's face it: There have been no winners in this. A man still lost his life. That fact isn't going to change.”
Lisa Ellis said she felt as though many people in the black community are cautiously optimistic that criminal charges have been brought against Baltimore police, but acknowledge a difficult legal struggle is ahead.
“It's not over just because they've been charged,” she said. “There's still a long way to go. We're still just looking for accountability.”
Saturday’s rally was organized by Black Lawyers For Justice and its founder, Malik Shabazz, a Washington lawyer who previously served as the national chairman of the New Black Panther Party.
Baltimore police were hoping Saturday’s rally would end better than the one Shabazz organized a week ago when demonstrators broke windows and accosted police.
Gov. Larry Hogan, who issued the decree of state of emergency last week, said on Saturday that he hoped to see the continuation of the four days of calm that followed Monday's violence.
He called for Sunday to be a “Day Of Prayer And Peace” to help the city heal.
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