A jubilant Baltimore headed into a weekend of rallies on Saturday after six police were criminally charged over the death of a black man that fueled national outrage over police conduct in black communities.

Several thousand people were expected to take part in a Saturday rally at Baltimore city hall, with marchers leaving from the Gilmor Homes housing projects where the victim, 25-year-old Freddie Gray, was arrested. Demonstrations were also expected in other cities around the United States,

Baltimore streets were calm on Saturday ahead of the march, with a large police and national guard presence near city hall.

Many in the largely black city erupted with joy on Friday after the officers were charged with crimes ranging from murder to assault and misconduct in Gray's death on April 19 from severe spinal injuries while in police custody.

But while the swift charges brought relief to the city of 620,000, residents said they needed to see justice served, not only in Baltimore but in other U.S. communities where minorities are disproportionately targeted by police.

Using social media hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackSpring, rallies in solidarity with Freddie Gray were planned on Saturday in more than 20 U.S. cities including Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.

The Baltimore charges served as counterpoint to other police killings of unarmed black men over the past year in cities including Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, where authorities cleared the officers involved.


Baltimore has largely followed the 10 p.m. curfew put in place after unrest following Gray's funeral during which dozens of buildings and vehicles were burned, 20 police officers injured and more than 200 people arrested.

As part of investigations, the federal government is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for fires that it said were intentionally set.

The worst of the blazes destroyed a center for elderly people and a two pharmacy chain stores. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has set up a telephone number and a web site to upload video footage of any suspected arson, and assured anonymity for anyone providing information.

U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, who represents the area where Gray died and has worked to calm Baltimore's streets the past four nights, welcomed the filing of charges in Gray's death.

"It feels good, it's a relief," he said. "They have to let it play out. It will take time. But so often there are no charges and the process never begins."

Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said on Friday the Maryland state medical examiner had ruled Gray's death a homicide.

She said Gray was unlawfully arrested and the six officers had repeatedly ignored his pleas for medical help while he was handcuffed, shackled and lying face down in the back of a police van.

Caesar R. Goodson Jr., a black officer who drove the police van, was charged with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. He and three others also face a charge of involuntary manslaughter and all must further answer to other lesser charges.

All six officers - three black and three white, five men and one woman - posted bond on Friday and were released from custody. Their union denounced the charges as an "apparent rush to judgment."