Baltimore extends curfew despite businesses' complaints of financial effects

A demonstrator carries an "End Racism Now" sign through West North Avenue near the looted and burned CVS Pharmacy as residents demonstrate against police brutality and celebrate the decision to prosecute police officers in the death of 25 year old Fr
A demonstrator carries an "End Racism Now" sign through West North Avenue near the looted and burned CVS Pharmacy as residents demonstrate against police brutality and celebrate the decision to prosecute police officers in the death of 25 year old Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 2, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BALTIMORE (AFP) - The authorities extended a curfew in Baltimore on Saturday on the heels of a week or rioting and unrest linked to the death in police custody of a young African American man.

The curfew is from 10pm to 5am. Many businesses such as bars and restaurants have complained the regulation has been disastrous financially.

The Maryland National Guard said on Twitter it had nearly 3,000 soldiers and airmen ready to help "keep the peace" in the port city, where many residents bristled at the sustained presence.

"We are not here to stay in the manner that you think we are in terms of the military," said the state's senior military officer Major-General Linda Singh. "My focus is ensuring that we keep everything in a safe manner and we pull out, we as a military, pull out in the same manner that we came in, which is very calm."

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters: "We recognize the concerns over the curfew. For tonight's and everyone's safety we're going to keep the curfew in place."

Earlier, thousands of people called for justice in Baltimore in new demonstrations a day after six police were charged over the death of Mr Freddie Gray. He was arrested on April 12 and died a week later from his injuries.

Many on Saturday cheered the surprise convictions of the officers - three of them black. They face a range of charges, including second-degree murder and manslaughter in Gray's case.

"Peace and calm is always better than violence. My hope is that we work toward a new level of partnership in all parts of our community as we move forward," said Mr Batts.

Asked about fixing institutional problems, Mr Batts said: "I cannot have a tolerance for any misconduct at any time."

But "you have to do a criminal investigation first and then behind that you have to do the internal investigation", he added.