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Tensions Running High In Baltimore After Night Of Rioting

A man on a bicycle greets Maryland state troopers on Tuesday in the aftermath of rioting in Baltimore.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET:

Hundreds of National Guard troops were positioned across parts of Baltimore a day after riots that left at least 20 police officers injured and more than a dozen buildings damaged, destroyed or looted.

Thousands of police officers have been deployed to "hot spots" in the city, Baltimore police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said at a news conference Tuesday. He added that the National Guard are positioned in "strategic areas."

At least 235 people have been arrested, 34 of them juveniles, Kowalczyk said.

The violence started hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody. His death on April 19 at a hospital led to several days of mostly peaceful protests.

As NPR reported earlier, the clashes Monday began not far from where the funeral took place, at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in West Baltimore.

Kowalczyk said Baltimore streets have for the most part been quiet Tuesday. Residents were starting to clean up the wreckage of last night's violence, including around Wonder Land Liquors in West Baltimore. NPR's Eyder Peralta says the shop was looted, its shelves stripped bare.

Bonnie Smith, who lives in the neighborhood, told NPR that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake could have done more to prevent the violence.

"They have to step up, you just can't brush it away just and because it's a certain community and let it go," she said.

President Obama criticized those people involved in the riots, saying their actions distracted from the peaceful protests.

"There is no excuse for the kind of violence we saw yesterday. It's counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they're not protesting, they're not making a statement, they're stealing," Obama said during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Some businesses had begun to reopen, according to news reports, and a public library in the area hardest-hit by violence reopened.

But the city is still tense. A citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. has been imposed, starting tonight.

Baltimore's public schools were closed for the day, and some subway stops are closed to avoid police activity, according to The Associated Press. Tonight's Baltimore Orioles-Chicago White Sox game at Camden Yards has been postponed.

The Orioles said their Wednesday game against the White Sox will go ahead, but it'll be closed to the public. The team's three-game series this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays, had been scheduled to be played in Baltimore but will instead be played in St. Petersburg, Fla.

On Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in Baltimore. The governor has since temporarily moved his office from the state capital, Annapolis, to Baltimore. This morning, he toured the areas damaged by rioters.

"Today I was frankly pleasantly surprised, No. 1, that we had got the fires under control," Hogan said. "The city is already safer than it was before."

In the light of day, there are questions about why city officials appeared to be caught off-guard by the riots. Baltimore Police Captain Kowalczyk says Monday's protest was billed as "high school protests," and that it would have been wrong to respond immediately with heavy weapons and armor.

Police acknowledged that, at least early on, they been outflanked and outnumbered by the rioters, according to The New York Times.

Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake has been asked why it took hours for her to ask the governor to declare a state of emergency. The AP reports the mayor said officials believed they had gotten the unrest over the weekend under control and that it would have been inappropriate "to bring in the National Guard when we had it under control."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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