Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had faced growing calls forthe curfew to be scrapped, particularly from store and restaurant owners who said the 10:00 pm to 5:00 am nightly restriction was wrecking business.
    
"My goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary," Rawlings-Blake wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning. "I believe we have reached that point today."
    
Authorities imposed the curfew April 28 after protests over the death of a man who sustained fatal injuries while in police custody turned violent. The curb on nighttime activity was initially supposed to remain in place until May 4.
    
Baltimore took the unusual step of a citywide curfew after rioters torched cars, pelted police with stones and ransacked stores on April 27. The riots stemmed from protests over the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who suffered a serious spinal injury while in the back of a police van on April 12. He died a week later.
    
To help prevent repeat violence, authorities sent about 3,000 Maryland National Guard troops into Baltimore. Soon after the curfew ended, Governor Larry Hogan held a brief press conference and said the troops had already started to leave the city.
    
"The trucks are pulling out this morning. It's going to take a little bit of a while," Hogan said. "It's not going to happen instantaneously. It's going to take a couple of days to get everybody out. We had to build an
entire city to save the city."
    
On Friday, prosecutors said Gray should never even have been arrested and had committed no crime. Six Baltimore police officers, three white and three black, were charged with multiple counts including second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the death.
    
Baltimore's police union has condemned what it calls "an egregious rush to judgement," as it defended the officers and expressed confidence they would be cleared. (AFP)

 

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