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Hillary Clinton wants all US police officers to wear body cameras

Police have been suppressing protesters who defied the city-wide curfew, which is expected to last for at least a week.

Updated 8pm

Suspect Dies Baltimore AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

A NIGHT-TIME CURFEW restored a semblance of order to badly scarred Baltimore earlier today after riots dragged it into the national debate over how US police treat young black men.

Thousands of military and police reinforcements took up positions on the streets of Baltimore yesterday after a night of unrest on Monday saw stores looted, more than 140 vehicles burned, 20 police wounded and more than 250 suspects arrested.

Projectiles thrown

Suspect Dies Baltimore AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Police fired smoke bombs and pepper pellets at protesters who defied the citywide clear-the-streets order starting at 10 pm.

Protesters threw bottles and other projectiles at a line of riot police protecting themselves with shields.

But the scene was a far cry from the spasm of rioting and looting on Monday in which roving gangs of youths torched buildings and cars and ransacked shops in poor areas of the northeast American city of 620,000 beset with high unemployment and pockets of severe poverty.

‘Balance needs to be restored’

Dem 2016 Clinton AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Hillary Clinton weighed in on the unrest, saying that “balance” should be restored in the US criminal justice system.

She also said that all police officers should be outfitted with body cameras, to protect people “on both sides of the lens”.

She said African American men are more often stopped by police, charged and jailed, and said trust between police and the public must be “urgently” rebuilt.

There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are given to white counterparts. We need to restore balance to our criminal justice system.

Suspect Dies Baltimore A member of the National Guard patrols a street in Baltimore last night AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Clinton said a string of high-profile deaths of unarmed African-American men in police hands should provoke wide reform, not only in the justice system.

These recent tragedies should galvanize us to come together as a nation to find our balance again.
We must urgently begin to rebuild the bonds of trust and respect among Americans. Between police and citizens, yes, but also across society.

Clinton called for all police officers across the country to be outfitted with body cameras to “improve transparency and accountability”.

It will protect people on both sides of the lens. For every tragedy caught on tape, there surely have been many more that remain invisible.

‘The city is stable’

Suspect Dies Baltimore David Goldman David Goldman

“The curfew is in fact working. Citizens are safe. The city is stable,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told a midnight news conference.

A total of 10 people were arrested, seven of them for curfew violation.

That compared to more than 250 on Monday.

After midnight, after tear gas clouds forced protesters to disperse, the streets were largely clear of protesters.

TV footage showed that one intersection that was ground zero of Monday’s mayhem was deserted but for police and other security forces.

Nervous authorities imposed the emergency night-time curfew at 10pm (2am Irish time) in a bid to stave off more violence.

But several hundred protesters initially refused to clear the tense streets according to TV estimates, and a fire was started near a library.

Suspect Dies Baltimore Reaction The riots were triggered by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody 10 days ago AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

A line of heavily equipped riot police moved on the crowd of mainly young, black men, who lobbed back whatever they could get their hands on.

Police responded with pepper pellets and fired smoke bombs, and appeared to have quickly and successfully dispersed the crowd.

Armored police vehicles moved in to help enforce the curfew, which was to be lifted at 5 am today and then re-imposed each night for a week.

National Guard troops were deployed to back up police in the gritty port city where the violence and looting erupted on Monday after the funeral of 25-year-old African-American man Freddie Gray, who died after suffering severe spinal injuries during an arrest earlier this month.

Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama condemned Monday’s rioting. But he warned that incidents in recent months “raise troubling questions” about the policing of black communities in the United States.

Last year’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, triggered coast-to-coast protests.

“Since Ferguson… we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that raise troubling questions,” the president said.

I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching.
I think there’s some communities that have to do some soul-searching. I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: Obama: “There are police departments that have to do some soul searching”

Read: Baltimore protests: ‘It can’t be business as usual with that man’s spine broken, with no justice’

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