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Pratt Library Gets Grant After Staying Open Despite Riots

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Throughout the riots and looting that overtook our city during the Freddie Gray protests, several businesses stayed open despite the danger. The PNC Foundation is now recognizing one of those businesses located in the hardest hit area.

Tracey Leong explains why they chose the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The PNC Foundation isn't the only one to recognize the library as a beacon of hope. Students from out of state sent letters to show their support.

From the CVS burning down across the street to businesses being looted nearby, the Enoch Pratt Free Library at Pennsylvania and North avenues was at the center of the unrest during the Freddie Gray protests.

"We saw the library continued to operate through everything that was going on; it really impounded to us what a community anchor it is," said PNC Bank Regional President Laura Gamble.

The library gave the community a sense of security and hope.

"Essential that the library be open for the community right after the riots and during the time of the unrest because people came in to apply for jobs and they came in for safety," said Enoch Pratt Free Library CEO Carla Hayden.

The PNC Foundation honored the library with a $25,000 grant.

"We are so delighted for the grant from PNC Bank. We look forward to using it to fix our building and programming," said library branch manager Melanie Townsend Diggs.

Helping the business continue its mission to be a positive outlet for the city's youth and adults.

"I like reading books and getting on the computers," said eighth grader Chance Torrence.

"This is really where I come every day. It's my place," said fifth grader Darell Simmons.

"It's a lot of kids that basically in this part and instead of them doing what had happened a few weeks ago, they can come here instead of being out there," said parent Jada Roberts.

Renovations have already started in the library and should be finished by the end of the summer.

The library will also be adding extra lighting and surveillance cameras to beef up security in that area.

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