Baltimore Public Defenders Overwhelmed by Hundreds of Arrests

Shane Dixon Kavanaugh and Adi Cohen, Vocativ, April 29, 2015

Mass arrests during the Baltimore riots overburdened the local courts, forcing the public defender’s office to recruit private attorneys as reinforcements to represent hundreds of rioters, arsonists and protestors.

The call for help began circulating among members of the city’s legal and activist communities on Tuesday afternoon. Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe announced he could offer lawyers in private practice up to $50 an hour to assist with representing people arrested. Others spread the word on social media, which attracted a swift and “overwhelming response,” Natalie Fineger, Baltimore’s deputy public defender, told Vocativ.


In just three days of civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, nearly 250 people wound up behind bars in Baltimore, according to official counts. More than 20 buildings were set on fire or badly damaged. At least 144 cars were torched or completely destroyed.

Those figures are particularly large when compared to the number of arrests and damaged property that have occurred in Ferguson, Missouri over the course of months. Compiling media and police reports, Vocativ found that during approximately 20 days of protesting in the St. Louis suburb between August, 2014 and March of this year, at least 500 people were arrested, 55 buildings were damaged or destroyed and only three vehicles burned.

Vocativ also crunched numbers for New York City, following the Eric Garner protests in December.

Baltimore, Maryland 

Day of mass protests: 3
Arrests: 250
Injuries: 25+
Buildings Burned or Damaged: 20+
Vehicles Burned or Damaged: 144+

Ferguson, Missouri

Days of mass protests: 20+
Arrests: 500+
Injuries: 70+
Buildings Burned or Damaged: 55
Vehicles Burned or Damaged: 3

New York, New York

Days of mass protests: 2
Arrests: 300+
Injuries: 0
Buildings Burned or Damaged: 0
Vehicles Burned or Damaged: 0


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  • Oil Can Harry

    I wish the rioters could be defended in court by Algonquin J. Calhoun.

    • Katherine McChesney

      Here deah, Amos. How you be?

  • 1Forced_Registration

    I don’t know where they are getting their information about only 3 vehicles being damaged during the Ferguson riots & protests. That number is so grossly inaccurate as to be laughable and could easily be refuted by video taken during night #1 alone.

    • I suspect these figures may be the recent riots, as opposed to those during the autumn and winter.

      • 1Forced_Registration

        That can’t be right, not with the claim of 55 buildings burned/damaged. This is a case of a reporter not checking facts and not having a clue.

  • Johann Wald

    I just visited Yahoo’s news section and read one article on Baltimore and of the several of over 6000 comments I read, the majority of them were adamantly opposed to the blacks, their criminality, the rioting and their general stupidity and whites, for the most part, are just really fed up with it all. Blacks are just too stupid to realize that they are in the process of shooting themselves in the foot. Again.

    • evilsandmich

      It is a bit like a live ad against gun control.

      • John Smith

        And mag capacity restrictions.

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  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Remember, the States Attorneys office is not only responsible for prosecuting all these offenders, they have just been given the report on Grays death to consider. I can see most of these offenders walking out without charges while politics will determine the outcome for the police.

    • The Worlds Scapegoat

      “I can see most of these offenders walking out without charges while politics will determine the outcome for the police.”

      Not if the person was white and J-walked to avoid violent black thugs. They will still be prosecuted.


  • John Smith

    They’re all guilty, so why bother?

  • InAFreeCountry

    Looking at those stats, the City of Baltimore got a 5-star wanted level on Grand Theft Auto.

  • JackKrak

    I imagine the firm of Goldberg, Leibowitz and Stein will take up a lot of cases pro bono.

    And maybe the SPLC could use a tiny piece of their mountain of cash to fund a good defense of these poor, young kids who are surely being railroaded by a system infected at every level by “institutional racism”?

  • Lexonaut

    “Maryland Public Defender Paul DeWolfe announced he could offer lawyers in private practice up to $50 an hour to assist with representing people arrested.”

    How ironic. Who knew that lawyering was a better life plan than dealing drugs?

  • DiversityIsDeath

    Oh, they’ll just turn all the criminals loose, set ’em all free in the interest of “expediency”. Issue a P.R. statement about how due to overcrowding they don’t have the jail space to house these vile perps “humanely”.