Calm returns to the troubled streets of Baltimore after days of serious rioting

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
A police helicopter circles above City Hall in Baltimore during a rally
A police helicopter circles above City Hall in Baltimore during a rally

Calm has returned to the troubled streets of Baltimore with today declared a day of "prayer and peace" following serious rioting in the wake of the death of young black man in police custody.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the US city yesterday as anger over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray turned to hopes for change.

Protesters in Baltimore erupted in celebration and hundreds of people broke the city's curfew, a day after six police officers were charged over the death of Gray.

The mood on the streets was drastically different on Saturday, with people singing and dancing as they cheered the charges including second-degree murder and manslaughter laid against the six police officers -- three of them black.

As calm gradually returned to the city, the governor of Maryland state urged residents to make Sunday a day of "prayer and peace".

"I pray that tomorrow will be a day of reflection and will serve as a foundation for how we all conduct ourselves in the days and months to come," Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement.

City police commissioner Anthony Batts echoed that sentiment, saying: "My hope is that we work towards a new level of partnership in all parts of our community as we move forward."

A string of killings of unarmed African-American men by the police in recent months have ignited protests across the country. Charges are rarely brought against officers.

Friday's charges had therefore come as a surprise to the city of 620,000, about an hour's drive north of Washington.

"I am so inspired and encouraged by what I see," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told CBS television affiliate WJZ.

"I think that there's a lot of hope that in peace we can seek justice.