NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Over the sound of protesters upset with the move, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday defended his decision to send state troopers to Baltimore following riots there.

In his first meeting with the press in months, Christie said: “I sent troopers to Baltimore for the same reason that states all around sent troopers here and other officials when we had Hurricane Sandy. When there’s an emergency in another area in our region and folks reach out for help, we’re going to reach out and give that help.”

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The governor, who uncharacteristically ignored the protesters said that Maryland is paying for the cost of the troopers, who were expected to return to New Jersey in 72 hours.

Christie campaigned for Maryland’s Republican governor, but said the move was not political.

Meanwhile in Baltimore on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters, many of them students wearing backpacks, marched through downtown, calling for swift justice in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered critical injuries while in police custody.

Authorities carefully monitored the rally after teenagers started the violence Monday afternoon, throwing bricks and bottles at officers who had gathered near a major bus transfer point. The situation escalated from there, overwhelming police as protesters set fire to cars and buildings and raided stores.

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Schools closed Tuesday because of the mayhem, but reopened Wednesday, after the city’s first night of a curfew went off without the widespread violence many had feared.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake talked to fourth- and eighth-graders at New Song Center in West Baltimore, not far from where Gray was arrested. She said she was impressed by the children’s perspective.

“They understand very clearly the difference between demonstrators that have a righteous purpose and those who are preying on this opportunity for their own benefit,” she said.

About 3,000 police and National Guardsmen descended on the city to help keep order, and life wasn’t likely to get completely back to normal anytime soon: The curfew was set to go back into effect at 10 p.m.

And in what was one of the weirdest spectacles in major-league history, Wednesday afternoon’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards was closed to the public for safety reasons. Press box seats were full, but the grandstands were empty.

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