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Maryland National Guardsmen patrol near downtown businesses in Baltimore on Tuesday, a day after looting and arson erupted following the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a Baltimore Police Department van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Maryland National Guardsmen patrol near downtown businesses in Baltimore on Tuesday, a day after looting and arson erupted following the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a Baltimore Police Department van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Two conferences pull out of Baltimore after riots

As city and state leaders worked to repair the damage caused by Monday’s riot, the violence that spread across the Baltimore took its toll on the city’s convention industry.

THE LATEST: More conventions canceled after Baltimore riots

A pair of conferences scheduled to begin Wednesday were canceled due to the violence in the city, one of which was expected to draw more than 2,000 attendees.

CoNEXTions, an industry convention sponsored by the Door and Hardware Institute, was scheduled for Wednesday through Friday at the Baltimore Convention Center and would have utilized approximately 2,500 room nights at city hotels, according to a statement from Tom Noonan, CEO of Visit Baltimore.

The anticipated economic impact of the convention was estimated at $1.18 million, according to Visit Baltimore.

Noonan said in the statement that his team and city officials “have been working with the organization’s leadership over the past several days to provide them with information and support as they discussed their options. At the end of the day, they felt that the current situation left them no alternative.”

A letter posted on the CoNEXTions website said organizers were disappointed to have to make the decision but that “the safety and security of our members and attendees is our highest priority.”

The American Heart Association also canceled a three-day conference that was to take place Wednesday through Friday at the Hilton Baltimore due to “increasing violence and a state of emergency,” according to a statement from the organization.

The national conference was expected to draw between 300 and 350 people, according to an association spokeswoman, who did not know how many hotel rooms had been reserved for the event.

Visit Baltimore was “continuing to serve as a resource of other groups that are planning meetings in the city over the next 30-60 days,” Noonan wrote.

But the Food Safety Summit scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday at the convention center was proceeding as planned as of Tuesday afternoon, a convention center spokeswoman said.

It’s Time 2015, a women’s leadership summit, was still scheduled to begin Friday and last through Sunday at the convention center, but a message on its website stated that organizers were working closely with the center and city officials and monitoring “the recent tragic events.”

Guests expected at the It’s Time summit include former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, actress Rosario Dawson and journalist Soledad O’Brien.

Universities across Baltimore adjusted their schedules Tuesday out of concern for further violence, with Johns Hopkins University canceling all of its daytime and evening classes in the city and the University of Baltimore closing at 5 p.m.

Loyola University Maryland canceled classes effective at 2 p.m., citing concerns about additional demonstrations that could occur in the city. But university officials did not have information about a specific threat to the campus area, and the university’s president, the Rev. Brian F. Lianne, said in a statement that final exams would begin as planned Wednesday.

The University of Baltimore was scheduled to close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, canceling its evening classes due to the “fluid” safety situation in the city, said university spokesman Chris Hart. Safety was the community’s No. 1 priority, Hart said.

Towson University also planned to close at 5 p.m. to make sure faculty and staff who lived in the city could make it home before the 10 p.m. curfew established by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Monday, said Gay Pinder, a spokeswoman for the university.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore planned to close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and for each day the curfew remained in effect.

A UMB student was injured during Monday’s riots when he opened the door of an on-campus apartment in the 600 block of West Lexington Street and was struck in the face with a rock, but the student did not need medical attention, said Alex Likowski, a university spokesman.

Morgan State University canceled all classes beginning at or after 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to its website.

Several area universities said they did not have any plans as of Tuesday to adjust their commencement events scheduled for next month due to the riots.

 

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