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Peaceful Freddie Gray protesters fill streets of Baltimore

By
Andrew V. Pestano and Danielle Haynes
Demonstrators march to protest the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on April 29, 2015. Freddie Gray died after suffering a spinal injury while being arrested by Baltimore City Police earlier this month. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Demonstrators march to protest the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland on April 29, 2015. Freddie Gray died after suffering a spinal injury while being arrested by Baltimore City Police earlier this month. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

BALTIMORE, April 29 (UPI) -- Protesters largely promoted peace and a show of unity Wednesday in Baltimore as a large march was held from Penn Station to City Hall.

The demonstration over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray began just before 5:30 p.m. local time at the train station then moved to City Hall and back.

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Those in attendance held up signs promoting peaceful demonstrations -- "Silence is the same as violence," "Black youth are not thugs" and "Love and racial justice."

Darius Craig, a student at Digital Harbor High School, told the Baltimore Sun he thought it was important the world see the youth of Baltimore care about the city.

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"I want people to know that we love our Charm City."

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Baltimore police said there were no arrests or injuries in Wednesday's demonstrations in the hours leading up to 10 p.m. curfew.

Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, in an afternoon news conference, said he anticipated things to remain peaceful.

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"We anticipate that that will be a large group that will ... march through the city to City Hall," he said.

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"So long as people remain peaceful in their expression we continue to support everyone's First Amendment rights and their ability to voice their concern," he said.

Things were largely calm Tuesday night, though as the 10 p.m. curfew passed there were instances in which police used flash bangs and pepper pellets to disperse protesters. At least one officer was injured in South Baltimore by a rock-and-brick throwing crowd.

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Police made 10 arrests Tuesday night -- seven for breaking curfew, two for looting and one for disorderly conduct.

Although tensions were high, the city did not experience the same high level of widespread riots and looting seen on Monday.

Kowalczyk clarified during the news conference that a report investigating Gray's death would not be released to the public. He said the report would be handed over to the state attorney's office.

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"We cannot release all of the information from this investigation to the public because if there is a decision to charge by the attorney's office, the integrity of that investigation has to be protected," he said.

Some of the more than 200 protesters and looters arrested Monday and Tuesday started appearing in court Wednesday, with a judge setting bails for some defendants between $10,000 and $15,000.

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Kowalczyk said police were attempting to complete the administrative paperwork necessary to formally charge those who have been arrested. So far more than 100 people have yet to face charges.

If the paperwork isn't completed within 48 hours of their arrest, they will have to be released, he said.

"We do not want to violate anyone's individual rights," he said.

Wednesday evening about half of the people arrested Monday were released with being charged, the city's Public Defender's Office said.

Kowalczyk said even in the cases of those who are released, police would continue to investigate and bring charges at a later date.

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Meanwhile, newly sworn-in Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday issued a statement offering the department's support in restoring calm to Baltimore.

"I am heartened that the unrest seemed to ease last night and that members of the community are trying to come together to clean up their city and I am hopeful that progress will continue in the coming days," she said.

Amy R. Connolly contributed to this report.

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