After five nights, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Sunday lifted a curfew that required people to stay indoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“Effective immediately, I have rescinded my order instituting a citywide curfew,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement Sunday morning. “My goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary.”
The curfew was first enforced a day after looting and arson throughout Baltimore after the wake for 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died in police custody last month.
“My No. 1 priority in instituting a curfew was to ensure the public peace, safety, health and welfare of Baltimore citizens,” Rawlings-Blake said. “It was not an easy decision, but one I felt was necessary to help our city restore calm.”
On Sunday, hundreds of jubilant people prayed and chanted for justice at a rally in front of City Hall organized by faith leaders, The Associated Press reported. The rally comes days after the city’s top prosecutor charged six officers involved in Gray’s arrest.
The Rev. Lisa Weah, pastor of the New Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gray’s neighborhood, said the message of equal justice for all must not be lost.
“Our prayer is that Baltimore will be the model for the rest of the nation,” she said, according to the AP.
Chanell Banks said many people wanted to go out to bars and restaurants on Saturday night to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but couldn’t because of the curfew.
“You don’t realize how much you enjoy your freedom until somebody tells you can’t do something,” she told The Associated Press.
Many Baltimore residents had become irritated with the curfew and the mayor, after days of peaceful protests and State’s Attorney Marilyn S. Mosby announcement of criminal charges against the six police officers involved in Gray’s death.
There are still 3,000 Maryland National Guard members spread across Baltimore’s streets.
Still, the city continued the process of returning to normality.
Mondawmin Mall, where looters hauled away thousands of dollars worth of merchandise Monday evening, reopened in west Baltimore Sunday afternoon.
And although city police continued to maintain a large visible presence nearby, where much of the unrest has been centered, the number of officers was far fewer. Those that were there no longer wore the intimidating black riot gear they used last week.
At the intersection of North and Pennsylvania avenues – the daily gathering spot for the protesters since Monday – the mess of shattered windows, rocks, and other remains from the unrest were long gone.
Traffic passed through uninterrupted and people came and went, walking to neighbor’s homes, corner shops or grocery stores.
Many attended church, heeding Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s call for a statewide “Day of Prayer and Peace” after last week’s nonstop demonstrations.
“As we begin to rebuild and restore, let us renew our faith in the true spirit of our city and its people,” he said in a statement. “I pray that (Sunday) will be a day of reflection and will serve as a foundation for how we all conduct ourselves in the days and months to come.”