By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2015) -- About 2,000 Army and Air National Guard members in Maryland were called up Monday night, by Gov. Larry Hogan, to respond to rioting in Baltimore, the state's most populous city.
Protests and vandalism took place in Baltimore Saturday, but rioting broke out in force during the early evening on Monday, following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died April 19 after reportedly suffering a spinal injury in police custody.
"As the state aggressively takes action to restore peace and order in Baltimore City, I want the citizens of Maryland to know that the state is fully engaged on all levels," said the governor. "National Guardsmen, Maryland State Troopers, and supplies have been sent to areas within the city and we will continue to provide resources as needed."
During an April 28 press briefing, Baltimore Police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said that 27 officers have been injured, 235 arrests have been made, 144 vehicle fires have been noted. The captain said there was a 10pm curfew in place in Baltimore City.
Guardsmen are providing presence patrols in the city and protection to critical infrastructure, according to a Maryland National Guard spokesman, Maj. Rick Breitenfeldt. The troops are also providing additional security to areas of the city after law enforcement clears.
"We are in a support posture... supporting state and city police," Breitenfeldt said. "The Maryland National Guard personnel assigned to these missions are trained, equipped and prepared to assist law enforcement authorities with protecting lives and property of law abiding citizens of our state. We are as proud of the role we play serving our communities. Marylanders should be reassured that the National Guard is doing everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of all law-abiding citizens."
Breitenfeldt said that while 2,000 Guardsmen have been called up, about 5,000 are available state-wide should they be needed.
Those Guardsmen, he said, are working in direct support of the Maryland State Police and Baltimore City Police departments and are being tasked by them for missions.
"Marylanders should be reassured that the National Guard is carrying out a well-established plan to ensure the safety and well-being of all law-abiding citizens," Breitenfeldt said.