Baltimore Mayor: City ‘Gave Space’ to Rioters ‘Who Wished to Destroy’

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

During a Saturday briefing, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said her city government “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that,” seemingly approving of the rioters who smashed the city’s police vehicles in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.

Gray, a man with a drug rap sheet arrested on a weapons conviction, suffered a spinal cord injury–perhaps due to rough handling by police–and died on April 19. Reports are inconclusive, however, and the police are not talking.

Rawlings-Blake said:

I’ve 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 could exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we tried to make sure they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we 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 deescalate. And that’s what you saw.

Rioters destroyed cop cars in a frenzy, while the police hung back. They attacked a wheelchair-bound woman, and a man wearing a #BlackLivesMatter shirt tried to stab a terrified bystander.

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