Did Baltimore Mayor Condone Rioting?
Maybe. Maybe not. But whatever her intent, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sure gave the impression that city officials provided a safe harbor for rioters during this weekend’s demonstrations over the death of Freddie Gray.
“I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”
There aren’t enough details yet to determine what exactly happened and who is ultimately at fault in Gray’s death, but in any case there’s no excuse for trashing police cruisers and otherwise mimicking the actions of those displayed in Ferguson, Missouri — something the mayor should have made very clear. What Ms. Rawlings-Blake did instead was appear to excuse deplorable behavior her administration knew was coming. Is that any way to run a city? No, but it sure is a way to ruin one.
Update: Rawlings-Blake’s words were quickly clarified by her office in a follow-up statement that said, in part, “There was an effort to give the peaceful demonstrators room to conduct their peaceful protests on Saturday. Unfortunately … that also meant that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate.”