Before condemning the thugs who are looting and burning the city, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake talked about giving ‘space’ to people intent on destruction, showing a startling lack of common sense.
Yes, she said it.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stood before the news cameras over the weekend and really did say, “We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.”
She uttered these words while explaining how she had sought to maintain “the very delicate balance” between the right to protest and the safety of police officers as a week of demonstrations over the death of Freddie Gray began to turn violent on Saturday.
“We work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate,” she said. “And that’s what we saw.”
After that success over the weekend, she apparently took the same approach on Monday. And this time those who wished to destroy just kept destroying and destroying as the situation escalated to where Maryland Governor Larry Hogan activated the National Guard.
Rawlings-Blake was only 21 at the time of the Crown Heights Riots in 1991, when New York Mayor David Dinkins held the police back in order to let protesters “blow off a little steam.” But, the destructive result was something anyone who runs a city should have studied.
Baltimore now suddenly became Crown Heights on steroids.
And to make matters worse, each thrown brick and bottle, each trashed car, each store looted and burned was an insult to Freddie Gray’s twin sister. Her brother had become the second young man to suffer fatal spinal injuries after being arrested for a petty crime and loaded into a Baltimore police van. She nonetheless remained a voice for peace.
“My family wants to say, can you all please stop the violence?” Fredricka Gray said. “Freddie Gray would not want this.”
Monday began with the chilling word from the Baltimore police of a “credible threat” that the Black Guerilla Family, the Crips, and the Bloods had formed an alliance to kill white cops as if were suddenly back in the 1970s and the time of the Black Liberation Army.
She gave not the slightest glimmer of feeling that she should be held accountable for anything.
Yet, as hundreds of mourners attended Freddie Gray’s funeral, we seemed to be in our own time after all, with the mayor and the police commissioner both African-American and both pledging that justice would be done. Fredricka Gray was burying her twin and you had to hope that her plea for nonviolence would be heeded.
But with the afternoon, the city seemed to tumble even further back in time, before the 1970s to the riots of 1968 sparked by the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, as then, the throwing of bricks and bottles was followed by trashing police cars and looting stores and setting fires. All you needed was somebody to shout, “Burn, baby, burn!”
Rev. Jamal Bryant, senior pastor of the Empowerment Temple AME Church, came from Gray’s funeral to one of the flashpoints.
“This is not what the family asked for today of all days,” he told reporters. “This was a day of sacred closure.”
He saw reasons for the violence, but no excuses.
“It’s frustration, anger, and disrespect to the family.”
He spoke of his parishioners joining the Nation of Islam in forming a “human wall” in an attempt to contain the trouble for which there proved to be no immediate containment.
Read more at The Daily Beast.