Mayor ‘Told Police to Stand Down While Baltimore Began to Burn During Riots’ Claims Damning New Report
Ashley Collman and Daniel Bates, Daily Mail, April 29, 2015
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered the police to stand down as riots and looting broke out across they city, a new report claims,
According to a senior law enforcement source, the embattled mayor effectively told her officers to do nothing as the city began to burn–raising questions as to whether the rioting could have been stopped.
Asked by Fox News if the mayor was responsible for the order, the source said, ‘You are God damn right it was.’
Despite strenuous denials from the mayor herself, this news comes as Baltimore returned to relative calm after the chaos of Monday night as public schools reopened their doors and people returned to work on a bright spring morning.
This new revelation follows fierce criticism of the Democrat mayor and her handling of the entire crisis since Freddie Gray died on April 19 from wounds sustained from his April 12 arrest.
Indeed, over the weekend, the mayor said she was backing off, lest she encourage those ‘who wished to destroy’.
The mayor denied she told her officers to stand-off the rioters on Monday and in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, repeated this.
‘You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately,’ said Blake.
In addition to accusations of being a soft-touch, the mayor has had to deny accusations she took far too long to declare an emergency and request the National Guard.
Governor Larry Hogan said that he didn’t exercise his executive authority and send the troops in, because ‘We didn’t think it was appropriate to come in and take over the city without the request of the mayor.’
However, he did say that as soon as the mayor phoned him, ‘it was about 30 seconds before we completely activated all of the resources that we had to bear.’
Blake dismissed this and said, ‘We responded very quickly to a very difficult situation. ‘It’s understandable to armchair quarterback and second-guess, but there is a very delicate balancing act that you have to do in order to respond but not over-respond.’
Regardless, with the city effectively shut down yesterday following Monday’s fiery city-wide riots, the resumption of the morning rush proved a vindication for the stringent curfew put in place last night.
Enforced by 3,000 extra police and National Guardsmen, the streets that had been rocked by massive unrest were quiet following the ending of the curfew at 5am with no reports of disturbances in the early hours.
Going on the numbers alone, the curfew was a resounding success.
On Monday, 235 people–including 34 juveniles were arrested, 19 buildings set ablaze, 20 police injured and 144 vehicles torched.
On Tuesday, 10 people were arrested and one police officer was injured.
But life is unlikely to get completely back to normal anytime soon: The curfew is set to go back into effect again tonight at 10 p.m and the city will once again hold its breath as tensions remain high.
‘While things are way better than they were, its not over yet,’ said Governor Larry Hogan.
‘We still have concerns of possible unrest’.
Attempting to keep expectations low, Hogan said that, along with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, they can’t promise that respect for the rule of law has returned to the city.
‘You can’t ensure that there’s not going to be any unrest. I’m not a magician,’ Hogan said to the Baltimore Sun. ‘What I can assure you is that we will put all the resources that we have at our disposal to make sure that disturbances don’t get out of hand.’
This comes as it was announced a midday a prayer vigil will be held for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old whose death after being fatally wounded in police custody sparked the protests.
And baseball officials–in what promised to be one of the weirdest spectacles in major-league history–announced that Wednesday’s Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards would be closed to the public for safety reasons–the first time in history.
But for a time last night fears grew the city would descend into riots far worse than Monday’s–with the police and protestors engaging in a huge stand-off to see who blinked first.
Thousands of police officers in Baltimore, Maryland threw tear gas and fired rubber bullets as they marched on about 100 defiant protesters who refused to go home and heed a city-wide curfew Tuesday night.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered 2,000 National Guardsmen and 1,000 law enforcement officers onto the streets to head off a repeat of the violence that erupted Monday night in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods in response to the death 25-year-old local man Freddie Gray.
About twenty minutes after curfew, a line of police in riot armor started slowing marching on the remaining protesters, who responded by throwing plastic and glass bottles and laying down in the street to block the cops in a show of civil disobedience.
The small crowd started to disperse though when police began throwing smoke bombs and firing rubber bullets. When a few of the protesters still refused to move, police fired a volley of at least four cans of tear gas into the crowd. An ABC reporter was engulfed by a cloud of gas and had to be told to run as tears streamed from her face.
Members of the local community came together to try and stop any violent protestors getting near to the police.
By midnight, the streets were mostly cleared when Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts held a press conference.
Batts said that 10 people had been arrested that day–two for looting, one for disorderly conduct and seven for violating curfew. Batts went on to say that the relatively low amount of arrests were evidence that the curfew worked.
‘One of the biggest thing is citizens are safe, the city is stable and we hope to keep it that way,’ Batts said.
The only people in Baltimore allowed to be out on the streets on Tuesday night were members of the media, and those going to work or experiencing a medical emergency.
Just before the 10pm curfew Fox News host Geraldo Rivea walked into the crowd and was surrounded by angry protesters–in the middle of a live broadcast.
One young man got right in Rivera’s face and told him: ‘I want you to get out of Baltimore. You’re not here for the death of Freddie Gray!’
The man, who was wearing a black hoodie, continued shouting at Rivera and refused to get out of his way.
Another woman shouted out: ‘Stop making money from exploiting black people!’
Rivera had to walk out to the side of the crowd where he continued his broadcast.
Jascy Jones of Baltimore said the sight of National Guardsmen on the street gave her a ‘very eerie feeling.’
‘It brought a tear to my eye. Seeing it doesn’t feel like the city that I love,’ she said. ‘I am glad they’re here, but it’s hard to watch.’
In an interview broadcast Wednesday on ‘The Steve Harvey Morning Show,’ President Barack Obama said the Baltimore riots show that police departments need to build more trust in black communities. He called on police departments ‘to hold accountable people when they do something wrong’ and said Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reaching out to mayors about resources to retrain police and provide body cameras.
The city of 622,000 is 63 percent black. The mayor, state’s attorney, police chief and City Council president are black, as is 48 percent of the police force.