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Baltimore Update: A Forceful Mom And A Fan-Free Baseball Game

A woman in Baltimore holds a sign Tuesday night telling protesters to go home; a curfew and community intervention are being credited with helping ease tensions in the city.
John Taggart
A woman in Baltimore holds a sign Tuesday night telling protesters to go home; a curfew and community intervention are being credited with helping ease tensions in the city.

The streets of Baltimore were quieter Tuesday night, a day after vandalism and rioting forced officials to implement a curfew. Today, the Orioles plan to play an MLB game without an audience, and a woman who yanked her son away from potential trouble is making headlines.

The shift in topics is a relief in a city that saw the National Guard deployed and a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. ET curfew instituted after Monday's violence. Despite reports that some people refused to leave the streets and threw objects at police Tuesday night, Baltimore was relatively quiet.

For Michael Graham, 16, a mask and hoodie weren't enough to fool his mother, who spotted him in an unruly group that was throwing rocks at police Monday. In an incident that was caught on video, she grabbed and hit him, yelling at him as she pulled him away from the crowd.

"That's my only son, and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray," Toya Graham told CBS News, referring to the man whose death after being arrested has caused a furor.

"But to stand up there and vandalize police officers — that's not justice. I'm a single mom, I have six children. And I just choose not to live like that no more. And I don't want that for him."

Of her reaction that has now become famous — a video of her disciplining her son has been seen millions of times on YouTube — Graham says: "I was angry, I was shocked. Because you never want to see your child out there, doing that."

Graham's words underline an article by the Baltimore City Paper, which profiled black women who have been organizing and marshaling protesters in the city. Several were drawn to community activism after a relative died following a police beating, the newspaper said.

Update at 2 p.m. ET: Governor Tours Neighborhood; Mayor Clarifies Remarks

Saying that he had seen a "stark difference between Monday night and last night," Gov. Larry Hogan tells local radio WBAL 1090, ""There was just a handful of troublemakers last night. There were a lot of peaceful folks who went home and did exactly what we asked."

Hogan walked around in the Sandtown and Winchester communities today, talking with residents, meeting with local NAACP officials and shooting some baskets at a playground.

Also today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake discussed her remarks on TV and elsewhere, about rioters and "thugs" taking advantage of the unrest in Baltimore.

Via Twitter, she said:

"I wanted to clarify my comments on 'thugs.' When you speak out of frustration and anger, one can say things in a way that you don't mean.

"That night we saw misguided young people who need to be held accountable, but who also need support. And my comments then didn't convey that."

Our original post continues:

Days after the riots forced the Baltimore Orioles to postpone two games, the team says it will play the Chicago White Sox today — but despite a forecast of sunny skies and 70-degree weather for the 2 p.m. start time, no fans will be allowed into the stadium.

"After consultation with Major League Baseball and city and local officials," the team said Tuesday, "tomorrow's game ... will be closed to the public."

It's reportedly the first time in MLB's history that a game will take place without a live audience. The Orioles will make up the two other games against the Sox in a double-header on Thursday.

Wednesday's headline for The Baltimore Sun is, "Under guard, Baltimore cleans up and looks ahead."

On Tuesday, the paper spoke with gang members who had joined members of the City Council to urge an end to the violence.

An excerpt:

" 'If we can stick together doing something negative, then we can stick together doing something positive,' the man identified as 'Trey' said. 'I need a job. Most of the youths need a job. We need help. It ain't right what people was doing, but you've got to understand. Some people are struggling.' "

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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