Efforts yesterday to maintain Baltimore's spirit of calm in the wake of the Rodney King verdict continued as police pledged that additional officers would be patrolling city streets this weekend.
With the Birds in town and the circus at the Baltimore Arena, a jazz festival at Coppin State College, and the annual "Say No to Drugs" march through downtown, "district commanders have been told to spend overtime dollars and do what is necessary" to reassure the public, police spokesman Sam Ringgold said.
Meanwhile yesterday, units of the Army National Guard were put on "standby notification" at 11:30 a.m. Members were told to be prepared to report to armories within one hour if ordered to do so.
But spokesmen for the governor and the National Guard played down the significance of the move.
"We want to emphasize that this is a fairly routine type of action, not unlike the type of action that would occur in case of an impending hurricane," said Capt. Mike Milord, public affairs officer for the Maryland National Guard.
In the business district along Park Heights Avenue where an arson fire damaged the Pimlico branch library, several merchants planned to drive by their stores after closing to check up on them, according to Johnny Clinton, president of the Pimlico Merchants Association and owner of the Park Heights Barber Shop.
The Thursday night fire in the Pimlico library branch caused about $100,000 in damage, primarily to a work room that fronts on Garrison Avenue. But nearly all of the 35,000 books in their collection and the public rooms at the branch in the 5100 block of Park Heights Ave. were not damaged by the one-alarm blaze. Police said they had made no arrests in the fire that was started when someone tossed a Molotov cocktail through a library window.
About 500 paperback books, worth approximately $7,500 and stored in a fire-damaged workroom, were lost, library spokeswoman Averil Kadis said.
Two other stores in the block had windows broken by vandals, police said.
Police in Baltimore County reported several incidents of vandalism late Thursday that appeared to be related to anger over the verdict in the Rodney King case.
* Two parked cars were overturned by a group of seven to 10 youths just east of the Baltimore city-county line in Cedonia. A Toyota Tercel and a Honda Civic were turned on their sides and the windows of two other vehicles were shattered in the incidents, which occurred in the 5600 block of Leiden Ave., police spokesman Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger said.
* Another car in the 6100 block of St. Regis Road was doused with gasoline and set afire around midnight, police reported.
* The window of a coin-operated cleaner at 6096 Radecke Ave. was broken.
* In Catonsville, a vandal shot out a side window on a parked car in the 300 block of Beaumont Ave. and left a printed note saying, "Rodney King don't like you." Graffiti artists spray-painted the name "King" on lamp posts and signs at Security Square Mall and at an apartment complex across Rolling Road, Sergeant Doarnberger said.
No arrests were made in the county incidents, the spokesman said.