From the vault: Remembering Baltimore’s 1968 riots

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The Baltimore riot of April 1968 was a long Palm Sunday weekend of contrasts from Saturday through Tuesday, and it wiped out much of the downtown business district.

People went to church and people looted. People were curious or scared to death. They went outside looking for adventure or to calm things down.

The skies were a sunny blue in one direction and black with smoke in another. Hundreds of city and state police officers were deployed to limit destruction in East and West Baltimore. Many merchants decried the lack of police protection for businesses. The sky was blackened with the smoke of 800 fires in 72 hours.

The toll was steep: six people were killed, 700 were injured, 1,000 small businesses were looted or burned out and 5,800 people were arrested. Nearly 3,500 cases were tried in city courts.

Tulips had replaced the daffodils in back yards and federal troops patrolled streets with bayonets on their guns.

The mayor said the riot was well-planned and others thought there was no evidence of that. Many agreed the trouble started in East Baltimore.

On the streets were Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance signs, an all-out curfew, no traffic, no liquor sales and no more mom-and-pop stores on corner lots.

Reporting from The Sun archives