Baltimore riots: Events baffle, concern York, Adams counties

York County has many connections with its neighbor to the south. Here are some of the ways Monday’s violence in Baltimore was impacting people in the region Tuesday.

Truckers are wary

At the park-and-ride in Shrewsbury Township, just off the Interstate 83 exit, Virginia trucker Jessie Byrd said he had delivered a load in Glen Burnie, Md., Monday night.

“My wife told me to be careful, because there was a whole lot of things going on,” in Baltimore, he said.

He talked to a couple workers at the Glen Burnie distribution center where he dropped off his freight, and “They were telling me how bad it was.”

Also at the park-and-ride, another trucker, Mark Hawse, of Ohio, remarked about the violence: “I don’t understand why they burn up their own neighborhoods.”

Hawse said he was traveling to Maryland later that day but not into Baltimore.

Like Byrd, he, too, received a call from his wife.

“I told her, ‘Honey, I’m not going to be downtown,'” he said.

Worried about daughter

Page McGavisk of York Township was on the phone all Tuesday morning. Her daughter is a student at Maryland Institute College of Art, which she said is right smack in the middle of all the trouble on North Avenue.

Her new apartment is close by, so she was having friends stay with her for a day or two. Her daughter’s first class was canceled at first, but then she said it was back on schedule.

A lot of the students have studios around North Avenue and needed to go work, she said. McGavisk said she planned on going down to Baltimore Wednesday.

Help people above all else

Vito Vespe, an EMS employee at Delta-Cardiff Fire Company in Delta, said he has many friends on the Baltimore fire and police departments.

“They’re leery, because you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Vespe, a former police officer in New Castle County, Delaware, remembers violence against police in the 1960s.

“That’s what started the two-man cars back in the day,” he said.

He said that those he knows in the police, fire and medical fields put helping people above all else.

“To us, it’s not a black-or-white issue,” he said. “If we walk into someone’s house, we don’t care (what race or nationality they are). …We go in to do our job in a professional manner.”

‘I expect to be stopped’

Thomas Kirchner was expecting to be in the thick of the area of previous rioting as he finished his shift at Baltimore’s Penn Station on Tuesday night.

The Littlestown resident is a locomotive engineer with Amtrak and works just a few blocks from where rioters set a CVS ablaze on Monday. He planned to start his shift as usual Tuesday afternoon, but he was not without concern.

“I actually have to drive right out to the middle of this mess to park,” he said.

He feels somewhat safe knowing the Amtrak station is heavily monitored by police and security guards. But he packed an extra set of clothes just in case he had to hunker down after his shift was to end at 10 p.m.

A city-wide curfew was also to take effect at 10 p.m. Kirchner, talking earlier in the day, said he hoped police would stop him and ask to see his work identification when he walks to his car.

“I expect to be stopped by the police,” he said. “I kind of hope they’re out in force.”

Turn to prayer

The Rev. Joshua Brommer, pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish in New Freedom and liturgy coordinator for the Diocese of Harrisburg, suggested parishes in the diocese remember Baltimore in the “Universal Prayers,” which are a part of every Mass celebrated.

“In this time of civil unrest, it is fitting that we turn to pray for our country and those first responders who stand on the front line of the struggle,” he said in an email.

Brommer also mentioned that Saint Michael the Archangel is often invoked as the patron of police men and women.

“May his special protection come to the aid of the people and fire personnel who confront the conflict in the city of Baltimore,” he said.

Baffled by rioters

Kelly Hollenbaugh, of Littlestown, whose husband and sister both commute to the city for work, was concerned.

“I think it’s pretty scary, and it’s just giving them an excuse to act the way they are,” Hollenbaugh said of the strained relationship between protesters and police.

Many said they were baffled at rioters causing harm to an area they called home.

“It’s a shame, it really is,” said Joel Plank, of Gettysburg. “I just can’t believe people would do that to their own city.”

Paul Grier, of McSherrystown, said the cancellation of the Orioles game Tuesday night was only going to add fuel to the fire. He said he understood that people were mad, given the many publicized clashes between police officers and black males. His own African-American heritage, however, did not mean he was going to say the riots were justified.

“I don’t think I would be in any type of danger down there necessarily,” Grier said. “But I’m the type of guy that when I see something like that going on, I’m going to try to stop it. I wouldn’t want to be down there in it.”

Staff writers Ted Czech, Caitlin Kerfin, Jennifer Wentz, Lillian Reed and Ed Mahon contributed to this report.

See it on YDR here.

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