I left my hotel at around 11:30 this morning and headed to the Inner Harbor, where I’d heard the National Guard was stationed. But Baltimore, at least near Camden Yards where I am, feels fairly quiet. People are out and about; if it wasn’t for the presence of guards and troopers it would feel like normal spring day.
There are about 75 to 100 state troopers standing around near Harborplace.
I ask a state trooper whether he expects action down here: “It’s going to be everywhere. We’re just trying to prepare for the worst. We have police on every corner.” Whether he’s heard anything about North and Pennsylvania, where the cars burned last night: “Yeah, it’s getting busy up there. It’s heating up.”
At around 1:45 p.m., a guardsman in front of Baltimore’s World Trade Center reveals that he’s had very little sleep. “We got activated at about 7:00 last night, and we’ve been up since then. We just went to the armory, grabbed our gear, and came here.”
A state trooper in tactical gear tells me, “We don’t know” if it’s going to get violent. “We’re just preparing.” I ask if he thinks there’s a time it would be wise to clear out of the harbor area. “Probably dark, just to be safe.”
This is the only protester I’ve seen downtown, so far. His name is Liam, he tells me, and he lives in Baltimore. “I work a lot,” he says, “and this is the first day I’ve had off, so I’m just going solo until I meet up with a group.”
Outside a Noodles and Co., which has closed for the day, I speak to a woman who works there. Her name is Whitney and she lives in West Baltimore, “right around the corner from where Freddie Gray was arrested.” Whitney says the protests will start out west and end down here, near the harbor tonight. “It’s all over Instagram,” she adds. She tells me she thinks it was “was a really bad idea to close the schools. Now the kids have nothing but free time on their hands.” Noodles and Co. is closing early tonight because of the curfew, and the manager has all employees bringing outdoor chairs and tables inside; looters used them to smash windows the night before. The nearby Urban Outfitters, Hooters, and Bubba Gump Shrimp are also closed.
I was near Camden Yards when six or so armored trucks charged down Pratt with police escorts, sirens blaring.
At Pratt and Market, three state troopers and a guardsman tell me that someone stole an ambulance near North and Penn. When I ask why, he says, “Who knows? If it’s a paramedic ambulance it might have narcotics on it.”
When I ask a state trooper eating a cheeseburger near Harborplace how things are going, he says, “We just want to be ready if they do [come to the harbor].” He looks towards another group of cops and guardsmen: “They [the protesters] ain’t gonna get very far down here tonight.”
A Baltimore City cop stood to the left of this (above) unmarked police car. The windshield is partially broken on the passenger side and both the passenger side door and front fender are dented in. He isn’t sure what happened to it. “Another cop took it up to the riot and brought it back like this,” he says.
The same cop says: “I doubt people will come down here tonight. Not with all these people. We got all these officers down here, the National Guard. If they’re smart, they won’t come down here, unless they want a suicide or to be arrested.”