An official State of Emergency is now in effect in Maryland and the state's National Guard has been dispatched to the city of Baltimore following a wave of violence that kicked off between police officers and individuals in the streets on Monday and continued overnight.
As several large fires burned in the city, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, at a press conference just before 9 pm on Monday, said he signed the executive order (pdf) declaring the emergency just thirty seconds after it was requested by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The purpose of the order, Hogan said, is "to address the growing violence and unrest in Baltimore City."
Adjutant General Linda Singh, the commanding officer of Maryland's National Guard, told reporters that up to 5,000 reservist soldiers could be deployed to Baltimore.
"We will be out in massive force," Singh said, "and that just basically means that we are going to be patrolling the streets and out to ensure that we are protecting property." She said troops would arrive in "up-armored humvees," accompanied by other vehicles to move personnel and unspecified equipment. "I would recommend," Singh continued, as she spoke directly to those in Baltimore, "that we all go in and take cover for the night, go to sleep, get some rest, and let things settle down so that we can restore order to the city."
Singh said that if there were any concerns people had over the declaration of martial law in the city, she said she wanted to make it clear this was not what the State of Emergency has authorized so far. "We are in a supporting mode," she said and explained her troops would be taking direction from the State Police and local officials. "Martial law means," she explained, "at that point the military full takes over, so we are not at that point. I repeat not at that point."
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Some soldiers began arriving Monday night with the stated mission of assisting local law enforcement to defend specific neighborhoods or private property. More soldiers are expected to arrive through Tuesday, though the exact number actually deployed so far is not clear. Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, the Maryland National Guard tweeted:
— MD National Guard (@MDNG) April 28, 2015
Watch the press conference here:
Monday's clashes between civilians and police occurred following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray who died following severe injuries he sustained while in police custody on April 12.