BALTIMORE — Even after the fires were extinguished and the chaos quieted for much of the day, this city smoldered.
Baltimore’s physical injuries were abundant and obvious Tuesday, even as tensions flared again as darkness fell. Twenty-four hours earlier, rioters and looters overran neighborhoods and overwhelmed police. The harm inflicted was visible in the gray, ashen hunks of metal that had once been cars; the blackened holes that had been the doors and windows of buildings that used to house businesses
But the city’s most profound wounds, the ones that will take longest to heal, were clear in the eyes of the people. They were pained, confused and ashamed — an emotional cauldron fueled by anger.
Not just in West Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was taken into police custody April 12 and died a week later from a severe spinal injury. This was ground zero for Monday’s riots and Tuesday’s tension, a place rife with abject poverty and mistrust of the police.
Mary Clayton worked at a CVS that was looted and set ablaze. She trembled outside its charred shell Tuesday, her suffering visceral.
“This is our home,” she wailed. “It’s destroyed.”
That same anguish washed over neighborhoods throughout town. People here knew what Monday meant. How all that ugliness, played for hours on cable TV, would define Charm City for so many.
In a West Baltimore church, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s own emotional conflict was on display Tuesday. She grew teary-eyed as she voiced regret for calling the young rioters “thugs,” blaming her use of the word on the fury she had felt Monday night.
Such fury, though, pulsed through the city from dawn until dusk, although the object of the ire varied.
Early Tuesday morning, a block away from a dozen law-enforcement officers in full riot gear, a woman in a black-and-white polka-dot cap and Minnie Mouse sweatshirt swept trash from the sidewalk in front of her rowhouse.
Locked in her home, she had listened to violence overtake her West Baltimore neighborhood Monday. It reminded her of the riots that followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
This time, she said, was worse.
She saw young men dance on the roofs of police cars, and she saw the cars burn. On TV, she saw the destruction of that CVS just around the corner — a store where the elderly got their medications and mothers got their baby formula. She heard hundreds of protesters taunt police through the night.
“Very, very intense,” she said.
The woman, who is in her 60s and has lived in Baltimore for half a century, declined to give her name because she feared that the dangerous drug dealers who have infested her community — the ones she shoos off her corner — might seek retribution.
Retired after 39 years at the city’s health department, she supports the cause of those who have peacefully protested against Gray’s death in recent days. She said she has seen police beat young men here. That has to change.
But the bedlam that erupted Monday — the day of Gray’s funeral — she cannot understand.
“I was really angry,” she said. “I was really, really angry.”
Just feet from where cars burned on W. North Avenue hours earlier, Marvin Warfield swept trash with a wide broom at the opening of an alley.
“Youth don’t know how to articulate,” he said, his voice rising. “The only way they know how is violence.”
The women cleaning next to him agreed, nodding.
“How is you honoring Freddie Gray’s legacy by doing that?” he continued.
Darlene Cain recounted the fatal police shooting of her son in 2008, but even so, she understood the essential role law enforcement officers play in the neighborhood.
“I still want protection out here,” she said. “I still want my community to be safe. We have to work together, whether we like it or not.”
Cain was driving to pick up her grandchildren from after care on Monday as tensions rose. When she turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue, rioters threw bricks and rocks at her car. She laid down on the floor as the bombardment, which sounded like gunshots, continued.
When Cain finally retrieved the children, she peeled out, escaping the mob.
“God forgive me,” she said. “I didn’t obey any red lights.”
She and Warfield, both 54, resent the marring of a meaningful cause by violent opportunists. Gone are businesses they suspect will never reopen.
“Hurt,” she said. “Heartbroken.”
“You can’t be nothing but hurt,” he added.
There was ache and outrage and a feeling of helplessness, especially for those most directly affected by the destruction.
Randy Howell watched on CNN as flames ravaged the stone rowhouse that had been in his family since the 1950s. “My heart just stopped,” said Howell, 55, who grew up in the home and now lives in another Baltimore neighborhood.
Adeyemi Odunlami and his wife came to the United States from Nigeria more than two decades ago seeking a better life — and had it — until rioters plundered and wrecked both of her pharmacies. On the side of a building just up the road from one of the shops, a mural depicted three young people smiling above a plea: “Love your block.”
Monica Mitchell, after a sleepless night, took gloves, garbage bags and a rake to an intersection that still smelled of charred plastic. As an amber sunrise cascaded over Baltimore on Tuesday, she pulled her phone from her pocket and read words written by Maya Angelou: “Leaving behind nights of terror and fear, I rise. Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear, I rise.”
A blend of sadness and fear reached even into Fells Point, a mostly white, more affluent neighborhood on the east side seldom affected by West Baltimore’s troubles.
As a dozen children climbed through a playground at a floral park bordered on three sides by cobblestone roads, their mothers discussed the previous night’s events.
One woman said rioters kicked on her door, frightening her two young children. She had to explain to them that, sometimes, people do bad things.
Another, Janelle Diamond, a magazine editor, took her four children to her parents’ home in Frederick, Md., after her oldest son asked whether they were safe.
“It got to a point,” she said, “where I didn’t have an answer for him.”
On Tuesday, such fears shut down malls, museums, courts, federal offices, universities, shops and even Baltimore’s baseball stadium as the city adopted a defensive crouch.
In a dilapidated neighborhood two miles from Fells Point, Marie Jones’s grandchildren had asked the same questions about safety when flames erupted at a senior center under construction just blocks from their home.
It is unclear what caused the fire, but the family suspects that rioters set it.
“I feel ashamed of those people,” said Shakyra Smith, 10.
But the children also had strong, pointed feelings about law enforcement officers.
“The city people are so crazy because the police keep locking people up,” Shakyra said.
“Horrible,” said Nicholas, 6. “And I hate their guns.”
“I don’t like them,” said Charles, also 6, “because they keep killing people.”
As the siblings walked with Jones on Tuesday to see the senior center’s blackened skeleton, Shakyra pulled her sweatshirt over her mouth to repel the smell. On the front of her garment were the words “PEACE” and “LOVE.”
Nicholas peered into the wreckage, describing how it felt to watch the inferno the night before.
“All I did was look out the window, and I saw the fire,” he said. “I started crying.”
Justin Jouvenal and Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.