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In Baltimore, a day to recover

After Monday’s violence, emotions were high, but it was a time for residents to take stock and regroup.

A protester raises a hand for Freddie Gray as Baltimore police block a section of West North Avenue at Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )
A protester raises a hand for Freddie Gray as Baltimore police block a section of West North Avenue at Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )Read more

BALTIMORE - Down along the Inner Harbor yesterday morning, 100 or so National Guardsmen stood in line holding assault rifles, protecting an empty mall and an aquarium.

About noon, a shipment of Chick-fil-A sandwiches arrived to feed the troops Locals and tourists snapped photos and shook their heads at such a surreal scene on a sunny Tuesday morning. Cars honked horns in support, although one woman shouted, "F--- the police!" from a PT Cruiser.

"They look like they're ready for a war," said Donte Johnson, 44, as he walked past the soldiers on East Pratt Street.

There were no guardsmen at Pennsylvania and North avenues in west Baltimore, another surreal scene a little less than 3 miles away. There, it looked as if the war had come and gone. The noise of hovering choppers mixed with bullhorn preachers, distant wailing sirens and someone drumming in the crowd.

Police, reporters and residents armed with shovels and brooms bumped shoulders on the sidewalks for most of the afternoon. Volunteers tossed out charred debris from a CVS that had been looted and torched amid the protests-turned-riots after Freddie Gray's funeral Monday.

Gray, 25, died April 19, a week after suffering a spinal injury allegedly while in custody of Baltimore police not far from the intersection. Gray was accused of making eye contact and running.

As blackened shelves and wet, torn ceiling tiles piled up outside the CVS, some west Baltimore residents stood there and fumed.

"Where am I supposed to go now? Where am I supposed to go to get my medicine? Nobody thought about that. Nobody thought about how much this place means to the people who live here," said Lorraine Bates, 54. "You think CVS is going to come back here? Hell, no."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said 2,000 guardsmen and 1,000 law-enforcement officers would be in the city by night's end to enforce a curfew of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to try to prevent a repeat of Monday night's mayhem. No Philly cops were among them, a Philadelphia Police spokeswoman said last night. The New Jersey State Police sent 150 troopers.

The last time the National Guard was in Baltimore was in 1968, after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"This combined force will not tolerate violence or looting," Hogan said.

Police said 20 officers were hurt during the riots and one person was injured in a fire. More than 200 adults and 34 juveniles were arrested and nearly 150 cars were burned.

At the White House yesterday, President Obama said that those who destroy to make a point only make things worse.

"They aren't protesting," the president said. "They aren't making a statement. They're stealing."

Monday's violence also prompted Baltimore to close the city's public schools yesterday. That meant that Tasha White, 25, had to take off from work to watch her 8-year-old son. She took him to the Inner Harbor, where they were harassed by ducks and watched police boats pull up beside the USS Constitution.

She found a way to explain the "Army guys with machine guns" to the boy:

"I told him that things got out of control and the police needed help to protect the city. I guess it's the best decision at this time. I feel safe."

Later in the afternoon, in the Penn North neighborhood, hundreds of people gathered on the Cloverdale Basketball Courts, standing arm-in-arm along the edges. No guardsmen were there, no cops, just a few reporters. An occasional helicopter swooped by, but mostly it was Baltimore residents alone with each other.

"We can police ourselves," Carmichael "Stokey" Cannady, a group-home manager and community activist, said into a microphone at center court.

Cannady said burning police cruisers and buildings distracted from the death of Freddie Gray.

"I can't care less about a building," he said.

Still, Cannady blamed the people who started the fires, who tossed rocks, sliced fire hoses and looted on Monday night, for giving the media a spectacle to film and giving the nation an excuse to write them all off as one and the same.

"I need real men to stand up and be men," he told the large crowd.

Just before 9 p.m., a crowd of several hundred remained on the street near the burned-out CVS. A line of self-appointed peacekeepers could be seen pushing the crowd back from a line of police that had been blocking the street all day.

A local pastor could be heard on the loudspeaker urging residents to go home and to respect the curfew. "Let's show the world, because the eyes of the world are on Baltimore right now."

In fact, Monday night's violence had receded into the distance last night. As midnight approached, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters that 10 people had been arrested: two for alleged looting, one for disorderly conduct and seven for curfew violations. "The curfew is in fact working," Batts said.

A few miles away, nothing about Woodlawn Cemetery was surreal, nothing burned or broken. All the trees were in bloom.

Beyond a bridge that crossed a small stream, up a hill and off to the left, palms and flowers sat clumped together in a wilting pile atop Freddie Gray's grave.

- Staff writer Vinny Vella

and the Associated Press

contributed to this report.